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In re Estate of Van Note

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

September 23, 2014

IN THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM B. VAN NOTE, Deceased;
v.
SUSAN E. VAN NOTE, Appellant THE BAR PLAN SURETY AND FIDELITY COMPANY, Respondent,

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Clay County, Missouri. The Honorable Larry D. Harman, Judge.

For Respondent: Michael P. Dreiling, Jr., Olathe, KS.

For Appellant: John A. Christiansen, Kansas City, MO.

Before Division I: Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge, and James Edward Welsh and Karen King Mitchell, Judges. James Edward Welsh and Karen King Mitchell, Judges, concur.

OPINION

Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge.

Page 33

This is an appeal from a civil commitment order entered in connection with a contempt ruling by the Circuit Court of Clay County, Missouri, Probate Division (" probate court" ). Susan E. Van Note (" Van Note" )[1] was civilly committed to the Clay County Jail until such time as she purged herself of her contempt by returning monetary estate assets in the amount of $272,603.01 to the estate of William B. Van Note, (" the estate" ) that she improperly removed from the estate.[2]

Page 34

Van Note claims that the commitment order was entered in error in several respects. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

Van Note's father, William B. Van Note (" Father" ) died on October 6, 2010. On February 16, 2011, Van Note was appointed the personal representative of Father's Missouri estate,[3] and The Bar Plan Surety and Fidelity Company (" The Bar Plan" ) posted a surety bond in the estate on Van Note's behalf. Van Note, as the personal representative of the estate, made numerous distributions of property to herself including real property, personal property, and cash. Van Note sold several of the pieces of real property she distributed to herself during the time that she served as the personal representative of the estate.[4]

On September 17, 2012, Van Note's powers as the personal representative of the estate were suspended, as she had been charged with Father's murder. Van Note was subsequently removed as the personal representative, and David Holdsworth (" Holdsworth" ) was appointed as the estate's Administrator de bonis non. On November 28, 2012, Holdsworth filed a petition for the return of the estate property that Van Note had distributed to herself. The following day, The Bar Plan filed a similar petition. On May 1, 2013, the probate court ordered Van Note to return, by June 3, 2013, the distributions of estate property she had previously withdrawn.

On June 11, 2013, Holdsworth filed a motion for contempt against Van Note on behalf of the estate, as she had not complied with the probate court's May 1 order. The Bar Plan filed a similar motion on November 20, 2013. The probate court held two hearings related to Van Note's alleged contempt, one on July 1, 2013, and the other on December 12, 2013. Between the two hearings, the probate court received evidence from Van Note in which Van Note admitted owing a return of cash assets belonging to the estate in the amount of $272,613.01,[5] but Van Note claimed that the reason she could not return the cash assets belonging to the estate was because she had used the estate's cash assets for her personal need of posting a $1 million cash bond in the criminal case pending against her for the alleged murder of Father. The probate court also received evidence that Van Note's $1 million cash bond was released and replaced with a $250,000 criminal bond requirement after the May 1 order. ...


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