Family Law

John W. Dennis, Jr., Esquire

Adoption alters rights to claim to be an heir to natural grandfather’s estate in intestacy. In re Brockmire, No. 99103, (Mo. App. E.D., June 11, 2013), Richter, J.

Mr. Brockmire died intestate, leaving behind one biological brother and one biological daughter. At time of death his daughter had one biological daughter (hereinafter referred to as “granddaughter”).

Prior to Mr. Brokmire’s death, the biological daughter, as an adult, was legally adopted by her stepfather. Granddaughter sought a portion of decedent’s estate per § 474.010(2), RSMo. The trial court granted that request, and this appealed followed.

“The question involved in this intestate distribution are both novel and interesting, having reference to the effect of the adoption laws of Missouri as controlled by the laws of inheritance, and the laws of inheritance as affected by the law of adoption.”

Held: Reversed.
There is no question that when a person dies intestate, and has no surviving spouse, the estate is distributed “[t]o the decedents’ children, or their descendants, in equal parts….”Section 474.010(2).

However, the adoption statute takes decedent’s daughter out of that category (Section 453.090, RSMo.) The questions becomes whether granddaughter also loses rights to inherit by virtue of her mother’s adoption.

“To inherit as descendants (granddaughter) of Decedent’s child (daughter), Granddaughter must first establish that (daughter) was Decedent’s daughter for purposes of the statutory scheme. See § 474.010(2)(a). Granddaughter cannot do so, because applying the unambiguous language of § 474.060.1, (daughter) became the child of her adopting parent and no longer was the child of Decedent….”

“Therefore, Granddaughter is not legally the granddaughter of Decedent and may not inherit from him.”

(See also: Summary published under Probate & Trust Law, infra).

Action against family support division for money had and received fails because the division simply acted as a conduit of the support payments. Kohrs v. Family Support Division, et al, No. 75440 (Mo. App. W.D., June 11, 2013), Ellis, J.

Mr. Kohrs and his ex-wife were divorced in 1992. Originally, the mother was ordered to pay child support and Mr. Kohrs had custody. However, in 1999, the child began living with ex-wife, and eventually she obtained an administrative order for child support against Mr. Kohrs. That order was void because there was an existing order regarding child support. Nevertheless, for several years the Division collected child support monies and sent them to ex-wife. Eventually, Mr. Kohrs asserted a claim for reimbursement of monies had and received. He also sued the ex-wife but never obtained service.

The trial court granted judgment in favor of Mr. Kohrs for monies had and received. The Division appealed on the basis that it never received any benefit from the monies collected.

Held: Reversed.
An essential element of a claim for monies had and received is that the recipient benefited from the monies obtained. Here the Division only acted as a conduit for the funds. Therefore, the judgment should have been for the Division.