Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Estate of Siedler

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

August 28, 2019

In re ESTATE OF VINCENT SIEDLER, Deceased
v.
Cody Hopkins and Stephen Hopkins, Respondents-Appellants. Shirley Bramlet, as Independent Executor of the Estate of Vincent Siedler, and David Bramlet, Petitioners-Appellees,

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Pope County. No. 18-P-7 Honorable Joseph M. Leberman, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellants Jonathan R. Cantrell, Hart Cantrell LLC,

          Attorneys for Appellees Mark S. Johnson, Johnson, Schneider & Ferrell, L.L.C., Cape Girardeau, (for David Bramlet) Mark S. Johnson, Johnson, Schneider & Ferrell, L.L.C., (for David Bramlet)

          JUSTICE BOIE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Welch and Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          BOIE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 This case concerns the interpretation of the language of the last will and testament of Vincent Siedler. The will at issue granted the petitioner, David Bramlet, an option to purchase the estate's real property at an appraised value or for the purchase price offered by any bona fide "third party purchaser," whichever is greater. The money the estate receives from the sale of the real estate will become part of the estate's residue and will be distributed to the residual legatees named in the will. A residual legatee under the will, Cody Hopkins, who will receive 26.66% of the estate's residue, made an offer to purchase the estate's real estate at a price higher than its appraised value.

         ¶ 2 The issue we must determine is whether a legatee under this will (Cody Hopkins) qualifies as a "third party purchaser" as that term is used in the will such that his offer to purchase the estate's real property effectively increases the price that the optionee (Bramlet) must pay to exercise the testamentary option. The independent executor of the estate, Shirley Bramlet, filed a petition asking the circuit court for direction on selling the real estate in light of Hopkins's offer. The circuit court held that a legatee under the will did not qualify as a "third party purchaser" as that term is used in the will for defining the option's purchase price. The circuit court, therefore, concluded that Bramlet was not required to match Cody Hopkins's purchase offer. Cody Hopkins and Stephen Hopkins[1] now appeal the circuit court's order. For the following reasons, we affirm and remand for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 The decedent, Vincent Siedler, died testate on March 27, 2018. He never married and had no children. He had 16 cousins as his surviving heirs, including Cody Hopkins and Stephen Hopkins. At the time of his death, Siedler owned approximately 218.32 acres of real estate in Pope County, Illinois, which he described in his will as his "farm." He named Shirley Bramlet to serve as the independent executor of his estate.

         ¶ 5 Siedler's will provides for the distribution of his farm upon his death with the following language:

"I hereby direct that my farm in Pope County, Illinois, be appraised for fair cash market value by an independent appraiser within 90 days after my death. Upon completion of this appraisal, the Executor shall notify David Bramlet (who resides at 90 Oak Road, Harrisburg, Illinois, ) of the appraised value. David Bramlet shall have the non-assignable option to purchase, for cash under the terms of this paragraph, my farm in Pope County, Illinois, (or any portion thereof) for the appraised value or for the purchase price offered by any bona fide third party purchaser, whichever is greater. In the event David Bramlet fails to notify the Executor of his desire to exercise this option within 90 days of the date of notice to him of the appraised value or for the purchase price offered by any bona fide third party purchaser, or if David Bramlet fails to close the sale of the farm in Pope County, Illinois, within 90 days of the exercise of this option, this option shall terminate and my farm in Pope County, Illinois, shall be sold at a public or private sale, at the discretion of the Executor. The proceeds of such sale shall be added to my residuary estate and distributed pursuant to the provisions set forth herein." (Emphases added.)[2]

         ¶ 6 Siedler's will provided that 20% of the residue of his estate be distributed to two Catholic churches and two cemeteries, each receiving 5% of the residue. The remaining 80% of the residue of the estate is to be distributed in equal shares to Kathy Lynn Ellis, Cody Hopkins, and Stephen Hopkins.

         ¶ 7 On May 10, 2018, the independent executor obtained an appraisal of the real estate as required by the terms of the will. The appraiser valued the real estate at $371, 000 ($1700 per acre). The executor notified Bramlet of the appraisal, and Bramlet gave the executor notice of his intent to exercise the option to purchase the real estate at the appraised value. The parties agree that an individual named Gary Evans qualified as a bona fide "third party purchaser" and made an offer to purchase 40 acres of the farm for $80, 000. On July 19, 2018, Bramlet exercised his right under the option by matching Evans' offer at $2000 per acre for the 40 acres. On August 31, 2018, at the request of Cody Hopkins and Stephen Hopkins, the real estate was appraised again by another appraiser who valued the real estate at $398, 000.

         ¶ 8 On August 13, 2018, the executor filed a petition requesting the court to enter an order authorizing her to sell the real estate to Bramlet. Prior to a hearing on the petition, on or about August 20, 2018, Cody Hopkins offered to purchase all of the real estate for $491, 220 ($2250 per acre). Accordingly, the executor filed an amended petition to sell the real estate, asking the court to "make a determination as to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.