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Estate of Rodney A. Haddock, Deceased. v. Kevin Haddock

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT (San Joaquin)


December 19, 2012

ESTATE OF RODNEY A. HADDOCK, DECEASED. MARK J. RAMSEY ET AL., AS ADMINISTRATORS, ETC., PETITIONERS AND RESPONDENTS,
v.
KEVIN HADDOCK, OBJECTOR AND APPELLANT.

(Super. Ct. No. 392009212210PKPLSTK)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robie , J.

Estate of Haddock CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Respondents Mark J. Ramsey and Julie A. Buller, co-administrators of the Estate of Rodney A. (Rod) Haddock (the administrators), successfully petitioned the trial court for an order confirming that certain parcels of real property are owned by the estate, and that appellant Kevin A.E. Haddock has no interest in them. Kevin*fn1 now appeals. Because Kevin has shown no reversible error, we shall affirm the trial court's order.

BACKGROUND

We treat this case as an appeal on the judgment roll, because it reaches us based only on a partial clerk's transcript.*fn2 (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 8.830, 8.832; cf. O'Callaghan v. Southern Pac. Co. (1962) 202 Cal.App.2d 364, 366-367.) Accordingly, we presume that the trial court's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, and its conclusions of law are binding upon us unless error appears on the face of the record. (Nielsen v. Gibson (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 318, 324-325.)

I

Rod's Actions As Administrator Of The Estate Of Arthur Mark Haddock

Rod and Kevin were brothers: Arthur (Arthur) Mark Haddock was the father of Rod and Kevin. Arthur also had two other children.

Arthur died intestate in 1978, a resident of Calaveras County. Rod was appointed the administrator of Arthur's estate by the Calaveras Superior Court. Between 1980 and 1990, Rod distributed the estate's assets to Arthur's four children; each (including Kevin) received 25 percent of Arthur's net estate. Rod also prepared accountings of those distributions. A decree of settlement of account and final distribution was filed on July 20, 1981, and no appeal was ever filed. The attorney who represented Rod in his administration of Arthur's estate verified that all of the assets of Arthur's estate were distributed to the four beneficiaries, but Rod was never formally discharged as the administrator of Arthur's estate.

Nearly 20 years later, in April 2009, Rod died a resident of San Joaquin County. In a holographic will, Rod left his "entire estate to dear friend Shirley May Ramsey" for her to dispose of according to his wishes "that she and I have discussed." Rod's will was admitted to probate and Mark J. Ramsey and Julie A. Buller were appointed administrators of Rod's estate.

After Rod died, Kevin came to believe that Rod had improperly administered their father's estate, and that Rod had comingled his own property with assets belonging to Arthur's estate.

Kevin filed a $5 million creditor's claim against Rod's estate, asserting that he recently discovered Rod had "destroyed" a will of Arthur's leaving everything to Kevin, and had comingled his assets with Arthur's estate. Kevin also alleged, the administrators of Rod's estate had stolen from Rod, destroyed evidence related to Rod's administration of Arthur's estate, and attempted to conceal from Kevin the probate proceedings related to Rod's estate. The administrators rejected Kevin's claim. Kevin did not file an action on the rejected creditor's claim.

Kevin next filed a "Verified Petition" by which he sought to strike the probate proceedings, strike the administrators' accountings of Rod's estate, and to hold the administrators of Rod's estate in contempt. In the petition, Kevin referred to himself as the "de facto" personal representative of Arthur's estate.*fn3 The administrators opposed Kevin's petition. The trial court found it "ha[d] no jurisdiction" as to Kevin's request for an order to show cause regarding contempt because the matter "should be filed in Calaveras County."

Finally, Kevin filed a "Notice of Objection" to any further proceedings in the probate of Rod's estate because, Kevin averred, Rod had "mishandl[ed]" Arthur's estate, and Rod "could have easily destroyed the will" made by Arthur that "left everything" to Kevin and/or his mother.

Ultimately, Kevin's verified petition and notice of objection were addressed in a long cause hearing. The trial court entered an order denying them both, because: "[e]ssentially, Kevin Haddock seeks to modify the outcome of the Calaveras estate involving his father, Arthur Mark Haddock. Any action he seeks to take regarding that matter must be made in Calaveras County."

II

The Administrators' Petition To Confirm Real Property As Belonging To Rod's Estate

In January 2010, the administrators of Rod's estate filed a partial inventory and appraisal, which revealed that, at his death, Rod owned various parcels of real property, including a single family residence on Covey Creek Circle in Stockton, a single family residence on Round Valley Circle in Stockton, and a condominium located on Fisher Court in Stockton (collectively, the Stockton homes).

Thereafter, Kevin caused to be recorded as to each of the Stockton homes, a document called "Affidavit of Death of Trustee," in which he claimed to be the successor trustee of the "Arthur Mark Haddock Estate"; claimed that Rod had been the trustee of that "trust"; and claimed that Rod owned the property as trustee of Arthur's estate. One of the Stockton homes Kevin pledged as security for a $200,000 loan.

The administrators then filed the instant petition for an order confirming that the Stockton homes are assets of Rod's estate, and that Kevin has no interest in them. (Prob. Code, §§ 850, 859, further undesignated statutory references are to this Code.) In support of their petition, the administrators submitted copies of the deeds by which Rod acquired title to each of the Stockton homes to show that Rod owned each in his individual capacity at the time of death, and not as a trustee of the "Arthur Mark Haddock Estate Trust" or as a personal representative of Arthur's estate. In view of these documents, the administrators argued, Kevin's attempts to claim an interest in the Stockton homes have no basis in law or fact, are invalid, and should not be recognized as creating an interest in the properties. In addition, the documents recorded against the Stockton homes represent a further effort by Kevin to assert that Rod possessed property belonging to the estate of their father, Arthur, which efforts and claims have already been rejected by the San Joaquin Superior Court in which the probate of Rod's estate is pending.

The trial court conducted an unreported hearing on the administrators' petition, at which Kevin and the administrators appeared and argued. The minute order of the proceeding also indicates that Kevin provided "[s]everal documents," which were "deemed filed."

The court then granted the administrators' request for an order confirming that Rod's estate is the owner of the Stockton homes, that the documents recorded by Kevin against the properties are of no legal force or effect, and that Kevin has no interest in the properties.

DISCUSSION

I

Applicable Standards Of Review

On appeal, we must presume the trial court's judgment is correct. (See Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557, 564.) Accordingly, we adopt all intendments and inferences to affirm the judgment or order unless the record expressly contradicts them. (See Brewer v. Simpson (1960) 53 Cal.2d 567, 583.)

It is the burden of the party challenging a judgment on appeal to provide an adequate record to assess error. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1140-1141.) Thus, an appellant must not only present an analysis of the facts and legal authority on each point made, but must also support arguments with appropriate citations to the material facts in the record. If he fails to do so, the argument is forfeited. (Duarte v. Chino Community Hospital (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 849, 856; Nielsen v. Gibson, supra, 178 Cal.App.4th at p. 324.)

The California Rules of Court provide an appellant with a choice of several types of records upon which to take an appeal. The choices include a reporter's transcript, a clerk's transcript, an agreed statement, and a settled statement. (California Rules of Court, rules 8.831, 8.832, 8.834, 8.836, 8.837.) Kevin has elected to proceed with a partial clerk's transcript.

Because Kevin has not provided a reporter's transcript of the hearing on the administrators' section 850 petition, we must treat this as an appeal "on the judgment roll." (Kucker v. Kucker (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 90, 92-93.) Accordingly, we must conclusively presume that the evidence is ample to sustain the trial court's findings and our review is limited to determining whether any error "appears on the face of the record." (Id. at p. 93, Nielsen v. Gibson, supra, 178 Cal.App.4th at pp. 324-325.)

II

The Trial Court Did Not Err In Granting The Administrators' Petition

Section 850 provides in pertinent part that the "personal representative or any interested person" may file a petition requesting that the trial court make an order in certain cases, including "[w]here the decedent died in possession of, or holding title to, real or personal property, and the property or some interest therein is claimed to belong to another." (§ 850, subd. (a)(2)(C).) This provision is intended to operate as a mechanism for personal representatives to pursue "claims, causes of action, or matters that are normally raised in a civil action to the extent that the matters are related factually to the subject matter of a [probate] petition." (§ 855; Estate of Young (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 62, 75.)

On its face, section 850 applies to the dispute presented in the administrators' petition. In the petition, the administrators offered substantial evidence to support their allegation that, at the time of his death, Rod was in possession of each of the Stockton homes, to which Kevin had claimed an interest as the purported successor trustee of Arthur's estate. The administrators also offered substantial evidence to support their allegation that Rod owned each of the Stockton homes in his individual capacity at the time of his death, and not as a trustee of the "Arthur Mark Haddock Trust" or as a personal representative of the "Arthur Mark Haddock Estate." The trial court expressly found that "[a]ll allegations of the petition are true."

On appeal, Kevin does not actually contend the trial court erred in its application of section 850. Rather, he devotes much of his brief on appeal to repeating the assertions he made in the trial court that Rod absconded with his siblings' inheritance during the period he administered Arthur's estate, and the administrators either assisted or have "perpetuat[ed]" Rod's wrongdoing. These arguments, however, are supported by neither meaningful argument nor citation to relevant legal authority, and thus we do not address them further. (People v. Hardy (1992) 2 Cal.4th 86, 150 [a reviewing court need not address any issue purportedly raised without argument or citation to relevant authority]; Guthrey v. State of California (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 1108, 1115-1116 [merely setting forth general legal principles without specifically demonstrating how they establish error is insufficient to raise a cognizable issue on appeal]; Estate of Hoffman (1963) 213 Cal.App.2d 635, 639 ["It is the duty of [appellant] to support his claim by argument and citation of authority"].)

Kevin contends the trial court erred in "refus[ing] to enforce" certain subpoenas duces tecum presented during the hearing on the administrators' petition. The record does not support Kevin's suggestion he asked the trial court to take any action regarding any subpoena(s), and the lack of a reporter's transcript dooms his contention. (See Nielsen v. Gibson, supra, 178 Cal.App.4th at pp. 324-325; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.163.) Indeed, we presume official duties have been regularly performed (Evid. Code, § 664), and this presumption applies to the actions of trial judges (People v. Duran (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 1448, 1462, fn. 5; Olivia v. Suglio (1956) 139 Cal.App.2d 7, 9 ["If the invalidity does not appear on the face of the record, it will be presumed that what ought to have been done was not only done but rightly done"]). Under these circumstances, we find no basis to conclude the trial court erred in declining to enforce the subpoena, if indeed it did.

Kevin also contends the trial court's ruling on the administrators' petition constituted an improper "reversal" of another San Joaquin Superior Court judge's refusal to entertain Kevin's claims that Rod "mishandl[ed]" the administration of Arthur's estate in Calaveras County. There was no reversal. In previously denying Kevin's objection to the probate of Rod's estate, the trial court ruled that any effort by Kevin "to modify the outcome of the Calaveras estate involving his father, Arthur Mark Haddock . . . must be made in Calaveras County." In the instant petition, the trial court was asked to consider whether certain property, located in San Joaquin County, was owned by San Joaquin resident Rod in his individual capacity at the time of his death. Answering that question in the affirmative did not involve a "reversal" of any previous order.

Finally, we note that Kevin's appellate brief bristles with accusations of wrongdoing against the administrators of Rod's estate, which are unrelated to our determination of the issue on appeal. These statements are inappropriate and we disregard them.

DISPOSITION

The order is affirmed. Respondent administrators of the Estate of Rodney A. Haddock are awarded their costs on appeal. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.278(a)(2).)

We concur: NICHOLSON , Acting P. J. BUTZ , J.


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