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Moore v. Phillips

Law Dictionary

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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.6 Kan. App. 2d 94, 627 P.2d 831 (Ct. App. 1981)

Brief Fact Summary. Leslie Brannan died owning land and a farmhouse, which he left to his wife a life estate, with the remainder interests to Dorothy Moore and Kent Reinhardt. During the lifetime of the life tenant the farmhouse was allowed to deteriorate and, upon the life tenant’s death, the remaindermen Moore and Kent filed suit against the estate of the life tenant for the waste of the farmhouse.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A life tenant is considered by law to be a quasi-trustee for the benefit of the remaindermen and there is a duty imposed by law to neither commit waste to the property held in life tenancy nor to permit waste to occur.

Facts. In 1962 Leslie Brannan died owning real estate consisting of land and a farmhouse. By his will he left to his wife, Ada C. Brannan, a life estate in the land and farmhouse, with the remainder of the estate to Dorothy Moore and Kent Reinhart. Ada Brannan resided in the farmhouse until 1964. Thereafter, she rented the farmhouse until 1965, when it became vacant. From 1965 Ada Brannan rented the land, but the farmhouse remained unoccupied. From 1969 to 1971 the farmland was leased to the remaindermen but they did not occupy the house. The remaindermen inspected the premises from time to time through the years following. In 1973 Ada Brannan petitioned for voluntary conservatorship due to health problems. In 1976 Ada Brannan died testate, leaving her property to others. Ada Brannan and her daughter, remainderman Moore, were estranged from 1964 until Ada Brannan’s death. After Ada Brannan’s death, a demand for damages on the theory of waste was filed against the estate of Ada Branna
n. The total damages were alleged to be $16,159.00, but was found by the district court to be $10,433.00. The executrix of Ada Brannan’s estate, Ruby Phillips, asserted defenses of laches or estoppel, statute of limitation, and abandonment. The district magistrate sustained the defense of laches or estoppel, which upon appeal to the district court, was rejected as a defense and judgment was entered in favor of the remaindermen. Executrix appealed.

Issue. Are the claims raised by the remaindermen for waste filed eleven years after the creation of the life estate (and the death of the life tenant) barred by laches or estoppel?
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