In the Matter of the Estate of M. Stanley Ginn v. Almond, 323 S.W.3d 860 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010)

Factual Background:

Personal representative of testator’s estate, the testator’s daughter, filed a six-count petition for will construction, asking in one of the counts that the court determine the testator’s intent regarding who should pay the estate taxes.  Personal representative argued that because the testator’s will did not clearly express who should bear the burden of paying estate taxes, the doctrine of equitable apportionment should apply.  Testator’s grandchildren filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the claim for equitable apportionment, arguing that the doctrine would not apply.

 Chariton County Circuit Court, J. Midyett, Held:

The circuit court granted the grandchildren’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and found that the testator’s intent was that the estate taxes were not to be equitably apportioned but were to be paid from the residuary estate.  Personal Representative appealed.

Court of Appeals, P.J. Welsh, Held:

Appeal dismissed.  Generally, orders from the probate division of the circuit court are interlocutory and not subject to appeal until final disposition of the matters before the court.  An order is only deemed final for purposes of appeal if it falls within the enumerated exceptions in section 472.160.1.  Personal Representative argues that the circuit court’s order falls within subsections (3) and (13) of section 472.160.1, which say that orders are appealable “(3) On all apportionments among creditors, legatees, or distributes;… (13) On all orders denying any of the foregoin requested actions.”  However, this action was a will construction case and not an apportionment case.  This is not a case where the court apportioned or refused to apportion property or shares as to make it an appealable order pursuant to 472.160.1(3) and (13).  Will construction matters are appealable in connection with appealable matters set forth in section 472.160, but this case has no appealable matter.  Therefore, the appellate court does not have jurisdiction to hear this appeal.