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In Re Estate of Venturelli

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 2, 1977.

IN RE ESTATE OF PETER VENTURELLI, DECEASED. — (WILLIAM PREY, EX'R OF THE ESTATE OF CHELSO GUALANDI, DECEASED, CLAIMANT-APPELLANT,

v.

GRANVILLE NATIONAL BANK, EX'R OF THE ESTATE OF PETER VENTURELLI, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. WENDELL THOMPSON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of La Salle County accepting the first account and report of the executor of the estate of Peter Venturelli and denying all objections to the report.

Peter Venturelli died October 29, 1973. He left a will dated October 23, 1973, naming the Granville National Bank of Granville, Illinois, as the executor. On November 15, 1973, the will was admitted to probate and the Granville National Bank was appointed executor of the estate. Several claims were filed against the estate. There were seventh class claims in the amount of $41,734.82. One of those claims in the amount of $5,150 was owed to Chelso Gualandi. There were sufficient funds in the estate to pay the seventh class claimants 40 cents for each dollar of the claim.

The decedent had failed to file income tax returns during his entire lifetime and therefore it is doubtful that even the pro-rated amount can be paid the claimants.

Peter Venturelli owned three parcels of real estate located in Oglesby, Illinois. One was located at 116 South Columbia Avenue and contained two residential homes and a warehouse on the premises. The second was located at 151 East Walnut Street, which consisted of a large commercial building with a business area in front and apartment in the rear. The third was located at 202 East Walnut Street on which a large furniture and appliance store was located along with a one-story brick residence and a large garage. The decedent owned the furniture and appliance business and a defunct grocery store located on the 202 East Walnut property. He had operated the retail furniture and appliance business for many years prior to his death.

During the first week of December 1973, the executor commissioned Fred Meyer, the manager of a large furniture store in La Salle, Illinois, to appraise the furniture and appliance business inventory of the decedent's estate. James Venturelli, son of the decedent, was present when Meyer appraised the inventory. Meyer appraised the furniture for which Peter Venturelli had paid. Certain items in the inventory were part of a floor plan which were not inventory. The appraised value was $21,000.

In June 1972, the decedent, in order to obtain a loan, presented a financial statement to the Granville National Bank which listed his business inventory in the sum of $85,000. During the administration of this estate, it became clear that this financial statement was incorrect. The appraisal showed that the inventory consisted of bad buys, obsolete merchandise and discontinued items. Within 30 days after Peter Venturelli's death it became clear the estate would not have funds to pay all of the creditors.

The executor entered into negotiations with James Venturelli for the purchase of the furniture and appliance business. James received financial advice during this period and he was repeatedly told not to purchase the business from the estate. He nevertheless entered into an agreement whereby he would purchase the inventory, fixtures, and equipment and good will of the appliance and furniture business and the grocery business for the sum of $22,500 plus the assumption of an obligation due the General Motors Acceptance Corporation for appliances in the Venturelli Furniture and Appliance store at the time of Peter Venturelli's death. James also agreed to purchase the real estate from the estate for $25,000 plus assumption of the mortgages on the real estate. The real estate had been appraised at $105,500 and the mortgages due were $60,205.18.

Vesta Venturelli, the widow, was paid a surviving spouse's award of $7,500. This exceeded the minimum award of $5,000. There were also negotiations with the widow in regard to her rights under the will. These concerned the widow's personal property which remained in the marital home, the widow's award, and a parcel of real estate in which the widow claimed an interest. As a result, the widow was paid $7,500. Certain mortgage payments which had been erroneously taken from her were refunded.

The executor filed its first and final account and report on January 18, 1975, and asked for attorney fees in the amount of $7,500 and executors fees in the amount of $5,500. The attorney fees were based in part upon the bar schedule. The attorney's and executor's fees were approved by the court on November 6, 1974, in the amount of $7,500 and $3,500. The executor had been notified by the Internal Revenue Service of the potential claim based on the fraud involved in the decedent's having failed to file the tax returns during his life.

Objections to the account were filed on behalf of Chelso Gualandi. Hearings on the account were held on April 21, 1976, and continued on April 23, May 4, and May 12, 1976. At the hearing the executor amended the account and report from a first and final account and report to a first account and report. The court approved the first account and report and dismissed all objections thereto. The objector filed a notice of appeal in this matter.

The appellant has raised seven points on review:

(1) Whether the trial court erred when it accepted the executor's first account and report after hearing evidence that showed the executor had omitted and not accounted for some of the decedent's assets, had failed to have decedent's assets appraised and was negligent in ascertaining the inventory in the decedent's estate.

(2) Whether the trial court erred when it accepted the executor's account and report when the executor failed to account for the disposition of property of the decedent's business prior to its appointment and failed to account for the profits and losses of the business which the executor managed ...


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