IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF CHRIS ROBERT FRANK, deceased. SHARON ROSS, Appellant (Petitioner).
from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Catherine R. Rogers, Judge
Representing Appellant: Jason David Wasserburger, Throne Law
Office, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: No appearance.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE [*] , FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.
Appellant, Sharon Ross, applied for a decree of summary
distribution of real property of the estate of her
grandfather, Chris Robert Frank (Decedent). The district
court denied the application, ruling Appellant lacked
standing to file it. We affirm.
district court err in its analysis of W.S. § 2-1-205
regarding who can file as a distributee and from whom a
distributee may claim?
Decedent, Chris Robert Frank, died testate on August 28,
1990, in Laramie County, Wyoming, where he owned property
interests. Several family members survived Decedent,
including his spouse, Emily Frank; four sons, Marvin Frank,
Kenneth Frank, Darrell Frank, and Richard Frank; and a
daughter, Ardith Ross. Decedent's estate was never
formally administered. Through his will, Decedent bequeathed
the rest, residue, and remainder of his estate to his spouse,
Emily Frank died on September 17, 1991. Emily died testate
and her estate also was never formally administered. She
bequeathed the rest, residue, and remainder of her estate in
equal shares to her five surviving children.
Decedent's and Emily's daughter, Ardith Ross, died
intestate on December 18, 1994. Ardith died without a will
and her estate was never probated. She was survived by her
spouse, Henry Ross, and her daughter, Appellant. Under Wyo.
Stat. Ann. § 2-4-101(a)(i) (LexisNexis 2017), Henry and
Appellant each received one half of Ardith Ross's estate.
Under the same statute, Henry's estate descended to his
sole heir, Appellant, when he died intestate on July 28,
Sixteen years later, on April 5, 2018, Appellant applied for
a decree of summary distribution of the real property of
Decedent's estate under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-1-205
(LexisNexis 2017). Appellant identified herself and the four
surviving children of Decedent and Emily as the estate's
distributees and asked the court to distribute Decedent's
real property interests in equal shares to the distributees.
The district court denied Appellant's application because
Appellant did not fit the definition of
"distributee" under Wyo. Stat. Ann. §
2-1-301(a)(xiii) (LexisNexis 2017) and, thus, lacked standing
under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-1-205(a) to file the
application. The court stated in support of its decision that
Decedent's spouse, Emily Frank, was the
"distributee" under Decedent's will, not
Appellant. The court also opined that, if Decedent's
estate was subject to intestate succession under Wyo. Stat.
Ann. § 2-4-101, Decedent's wife and five children
would be the only "distributees" because each of
them survived Decedent. Finally, the district court remarked
that the definition of "distributee" showed the
purpose of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-1-205 was to provide
summary distribution of the property of only one decedent,
while Appellant's application improperly sought to
distribute property of multiple estates. The court described
the affected estates as follows:
a. As it concerns the Decedent's four (4) surviving sons,
through the estates of both the Decedent and Emily C. Frank,