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12/28/89 In Re Estate of Claire C. Parkhill

December 28, 1989

IN RE ESTATE OF CLAIRE C. PARKHILL, DECEASED (BANK OF


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

Pontiac, Ex'r, et al., Petitioners-Appellants, v.

Barbara C. Highland et al., Respondents-Appellees)

548 N.E.2d 821, 192 Ill. App. 3d 461, 139 Ill. Dec. 436 1989.IL.2048

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County; the Hon. Harold J. Frobish, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. SPITZ, J., concurs. JUSTICE GREEN, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

The decedent Claire C. Parkhill died April 11, 1988. The circuit court of Livingston County admitted her will to probate on April 25, 1988. Homer filed a petition on September 20, 1988, requesting that court to fix a surviving spouse's award for him. After a hearing, the court entered a comprehensive order on November 14, 1988, fixing the award in the minimum sum of $10,000. Petitioner has appealed, the only issue being whether the trial court erred in not awarding a surviving spouse's award greater than the minimum where the estate was in excess of $1 million.

In providing for a surviving spouse's award, which is a second-class claim under section 18-10 of the Probate Act of 1975 (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110 1/2, par. 18-10), section 15-1(a) of the Act at times relevant here stated that such a person shall be allowed

"such a sum of money as the court deems reasonable for the proper support of the surviving spouse for the period of 9 months after the death of the decedent in a manner suited to the condition in life of the surviving spouse and to the condition of the estate and such additional sum of money as the court deems reasonable for the proper support, during such period, of minor and adult dependent children of the decedent who reside with the surviving spouse at the time of decedent's death." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110 1/2, par. 15-1(a).)

We are involved here with the determination of a surviving spouse's award under very unusual circumstances.

This case concerns a situation where two couples had been good friends, and one wife and one husband died. Sometime thereafter the survivors married but the wife died 15 1/2 months thereafter. The husband was a physician who had lived well but entered this marriage with a negative net worth. The decedent was wealthy and had made substantial gifts to the husband by cash payments and placing property in joint tenancy with right of survivorship in him. The trial court found that joint tenancy assets, consisting almost entirely of assets previously owned by the decedent passing to the surviving spouse, included:

A. City Bank of Bloomington (bank account) $51,799.16

B. Pontiac National Bank (bank account) $51,152.15

C. Commonwealth Edison Shares $18,198.75

D. MFS Municipal Bond Trust Shares $82,974.14

E. MFS High Yield Municipal Bond Trust ...


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