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In re Estate of Whitley

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 26, 2013

In the Matter of the ESTATE OF Joseph Lucius WHITLEY, Deceased:
v.
Rebecca Lynn Love, Executor of the Estate of Victoria S. Whitley, Deceased, Appellee. Elizabeth Marie Whitley, Administrator, Appellant

Page 261

Davey L. Tucker, attorney for appellant.

Paul E. Rogers, Jackson, attorney for appellee.

Before IRVING, P.J., ISHEE and FAIR, JJ.

ISHEE, J.

¶ 1. In 2008, Joseph Lucius Whitley passed away. His wife of sixteen months, Victoria S. Whitley, passed away approximately one month later. Prior to her passing, she paid for Joseph's funeral expenses. She also began administration of his estate. After Victoria's passing, Joseph's daughter, Elizabeth Marie Whitley, became administrator of Joseph's estate. Rebecca Love became executor of Victoria's estate. Rebecca soon filed a claim against Joseph's estate for reimbursement of Joseph's funeral expenses. Elizabeth opposed the claim, asserting that the claim had been untimely filed outside the ninety-day window for creditors to file claims against the estate. The chancery court granted Rebecca's claim in part and denied the claim in part. The reimbursement of funeral expenses was granted, but the amount claimed by Rebecca was contradicted by the evidence. Accordingly, the chancellor reduced the amount of funeral expenses owed to Rebecca, but ordered that Joseph's estate reimburse Victoria's estate for the funeral expenses owed. Elizabeth now appeals, claiming the chancery court erred in granting Victoria's estate

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any reimbursement for funeral expenses. Finding no error, we affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

¶ 2. Joseph and Victoria were married for approximately sixteen months prior to Joseph's passing. After his passing, Victoria made funeral arrangements and paid for Joseph's funeral. She passed away a month after Joseph died.

¶ 3. Rebecca, as executrix of Victoria's estate, filed a claim against Joseph's estate for reimbursement of Joseph's funeral expenses. Elizabeth, as administratrix of Joseph's estate, opposed the claim, asserting that it was untimely. Elizabeth's assertion was based on the ninety-day time limit for creditors to file claims against Joseph's estate, which had already expired when Rebecca filed the claim.

¶ 4. The Hinds County Chancery Court heard the case, and determined that funeral expenses did not fall within the purview of the ninety-day time limit for creditors because such expenses are deemed to be related to the administration of the estate. Aggrieved, Elizabeth appeals the chancery court's determination. She claims the chancery court erred in granting Victoria's estate reimbursement for Joseph's funeral expenses because the ninety-day time limit had expired and because Victoria and Rebecca acted as officious volunteers and meddlers in the administration of Joseph's estate. She further challenges the reimbursement of funeral expenses based on a prenuptial agreement executed by Joseph and Victoria.

DISCUSSION

¶ 5. We are limited in our review of a chancellor's judgment. Howard v. Gunnell, 63 So.3d 589, 597 (¶ 16) (Miss.Ct.App.2011). " We acknowledge that this Court will not disturb a decision of a chancellor absent a finding that he or she is manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or the chancellor applied an erroneous legal standard." Id. (citation and quotation omitted). Nonetheless, we review questions of law de novo. Rousseau v. Rousseau, 910 So.2d 1214, 1217 (¶ 8) (Miss.Ct.App.2005).

¶ 6. However, it is well settled that an issue not raised and litigated at the trial-court level may not be argued on appeal. Estate of Gibson ex. rel. Gibson v. Magnolia Healthcare, Inc., 91 So.3d 616, 632 (¶ 47) (Miss.2012); Winfield v. Brandon HMA, Inc., 100 So.3d 974, 981 (¶ 24) (Miss.Ct.App.2012). All issues presented to an appellate court must be fully supported by ...


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