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06/29/94 ESTATE MAE EMMA HUFFMON v. CLARA VAUGHAN

June 29, 1994

IN RE: THE ESTATE OF MAE EMMA HUFFMON, DECEASED, THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
CLARA VAUGHAN DORRIS, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 92P255. Honorable John G. Townsend, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication August 24, 1994. As Corrected September 2, 1994.

Honorable John T. McCULLOUGH, P.j., Honorable Carl A. Lund, J., Honorable Robert J. Steigmann, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccullough

PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court:

On October 25, 1993, the circuit court granted respondent's motion for a directed finding in her favor, dismissing the petition of the Illinois Department of Public Aid (Department) to rescind an inter vivos transfer of real property alleging it was fraudulent as to the Department. The Department appeals. We reverse and remand.

Mae Emma Huffmon applied for and received direct medical payments from the Department beginning in September 1989. When she applied for aid, Huffmon owned a home at 309 E. Church in Champaign, Illinois. In her application for assistance she valued this home at $10,000. At the time of her application, the Department was not concerned with the value of the home because it was exempt from consideration for eligibility issues as it was a homestead.

In February 1990, Huffmon began living in a nursing home; at this time she still owned the property. When Huffmon moved into the nursing home, respondent Clara Vaughan Dorris, Huffmon's grand-daughter, began paying the expenses and taxes on the home.

In a deed dated December 2, 1991, Huffmon conveyed the home to Dorris. The consideration stated in the deed was "one dollar ($1.00) and other good and valuable consideration in hand paid." From December 1991 until Huffmon's death in April 1992, Dorris continued to pay the expenses on the home. Dorris did not live in the home until after Huffmon's death in July 1992.

The Department filed a petition to rescind the conveyance of the home to respondent Dorris alleging the conveyance was fraudulent.

At the hearing on the petition, respondent objected to testimony concerning the assessed value of the home and the admission into evidence of computer printouts of payments made on behalf of Huffmon. At the close of petitioner's evidence, respondent moved for a directed finding in her favor. Before the court ruled on respondent's motion, petitioner was allowed to reopen its case and call Dorris to testify.

Dorris testified that she paid, in addition to the $1 consideration on the face of the deed, the expenses related to the home from February 1990 until Huffmon's death, and she promised Huffmon to pay her funeral expenses.

After hearing the testimony of Dorris and considering the arguments of counsel, the trial court found that the Department failed to show a prima facie case of a fraudulent transfer. The court specifically found the value of the home was between $18,000 and $20,000, and the consideration actually paid for the home (the payment of expenses, improvements and funeral expenses) did approximate the fair, cash market value of the home. There was no testimony or other evidence concerning the actual amounts paid by respondent for these expenses.

On September 30, 1993, the Department filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that under section 3-11 of the Illinois Public Aid Code (Code) (305 ILCS 5/3-11(4) (West 1992)), all it had to show for a prima facie case of fraudulent transfer was "the consideration for the deed * * * does not approximate the fair, cash market value." The court found that the Department had the burden of proving the consideration was inadequate and failed to do so; the court denied the motion to reconsider.

The petition to rescind the transfer of the real property was brought pursuant to section 3-11 of the ...


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