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In re Estate of Nelson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

May 27, 2015

In the Matter of the Estate of Lyle M. Nelson, Deceased; First National Bank and Trust Co. of Williston, as personal representative of the Estate of Lyle M. Nelson, Lavina Domagala, Trust Officer, Petitioner and Appellee
v.
Glenn S. Solberg; Sharon Solberg Yoder; Bruce Solberg; Elaine Solberg Olson; Gloria Dei Lutheran Church; United Lutheran Church of Zahl; Dakota Boys Ranch of Minot; Heritage Center of Williston; Sons of Norway Lodge #086 of Williston; James Memorial Preservation Society(Old Library); Veterans and Friends of Old Armory; Douglas Murawski; James Murawski; Sandra Barnum; Eric Olson; Samuel Olson; Adam Olson; Tracy Solberg Willette; Angela Solberg; Russell Solberg, Respondents; Glenn S. Solberg, Appellant

Page 522

Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Joshua B. Rustad, Judge.

John S. Foster (argued) and Erin P. B. Zasada (on brief), Grand Forks, N.D., for petitioner and appellee.

Glenn Solberg, Zahl, N.D., respondent and appellant.

Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

OPINION

Page 523

Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] Glenn S. Solberg appeals from a judgment dismissing his petition for allowance of a claim against the estate of Lyle Nelson, his deceased mother's second husband. We are unable to understand the basis for the court's decision, and we reverse and remand.

I

[¶2] Lyle Nelson died in 2012. He was married to Solberg's mother, Lillian (Solberg) Nelson, who died in 2003. Solberg's father died in the 1960s. Under Lillian Nelson's will, Solberg was devised 25 mineral acres located in Williams County. He also was devised " one hundred (100) mineral acres out of what I have remaining at the time of my death in and under other real property, in appreciation for breaking up some of my land during my lifetime." A codicil to his mother's will devised Solberg an option to purchase certain farmland in Williams County previously owned by his parents at $275 per acre. The option was for two years from the date of his mother's death. In the probate of Lillian Nelson's estate in 2003, Solberg received 25 mineral acres located in Williams County.

[¶3] Solberg filed a claim against Lyle Nelson's estate, claiming under his mother's will and codicil that he was entitled to 100 mineral acres and to purchase farmland owned by his parents at $275 per acre. First National Bank and Trust of Williston, as personal representative of Lyle Nelson's estate, disallowed the claim, stating Lillian Nelson owned only 25 mineral acres at her death, which were conveyed to Solberg. Solberg then petitioned the district court to allow the claim. The Bank moved to dismiss the claim, arguing Lillian Nelson did not own any additional mineral acres at the time of her death, Lyle Nelson did not own or possess any of Lillian Nelson's mineral acres and the claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Solberg opposed the motion and requested the court to take judicial notice of his parents' Williams County probate documents. The court granted the Bank's motion to dismiss.

II

[¶4] The district court granted the Bank's motion to dismiss Solberg's claim, stating " grounds for dismissal exist as argued in the [Bank's] Brief." No further explanation was provided. The Bank argued for dismissal of Solberg's claim on two grounds. First, the Bank argued Solberg failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted under N.D.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because the property claimed by Solberg was never owned by Lyle Nelson, nor was it part of his estate. Second, the Bank argued the ...


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