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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Feb 27, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Petitioner/Appellant Cheryl O. Charles, Memphis, Tennessee, self-represented

Attorneys 2:

Kathleen N. Gomes, Memphis, Tennessee for Respondent/Appellee, Gisselle Carter Neely

Judge(s): KIRBY

This case involves an alleged agreement about funds distributed from a reopened estate. The decedent father died years ago, leaving three daughters and an estranged wife. The father’s estate was probated and closed. Long afterward, the petitioner daughter discovered unclaimed funds in the father’s name held by the State. Another daughter, the executrix of the father’s estate, reopened the father’s estate. Finding no claims against the estate, the probate court distributed the funds to the executrix, in accordance with the father’s will, and closed the estate. The daughter who discovered the unclaimed funds filed the instant petition in chancery court, asserting that the sisters had agreed that the funds would be split among them in accordance with their mother’s will. Based on the probate court’s adjudication of the father’s reopened estate, the chancery court granted summary judgment in favor of the executrix daughter, holding that res judicata barred the chancery court action. We affirm the grant of summary judgment as to allegations in the chancery court petition that the probate court should have distributed the funds differently. We reverse the grant of summary judgment as to the remainder of the chancery court petition, finding that the petition also asserts claims based on an alleged separate oral agreement among the sisters, and hold that the respondent executrix sister has not conclusively established the defense of res judicata as to these remaining claims.