Appeal from the Decree entered on September 21, 2007, in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Orphans' Court Division, at No(s). 278 Year 2002.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lally-green, J.
BEFORE: LALLY-GREEN, GANTMAN and ALLEN, JJ.
¶ 1 Appellant/Cross-Appellee, Valerie S. Gaydos ("Executor"), executor of the Estate (the "Estate") of Bruce E. Johnson (the "Deceased"), and Appellee/Cross-Appellant Deborah Rogers Johnson ("Johnson"), appeal from the trial court's order and decree of September 21, 2007. We affirm in part and vacate in part.
¶ 2 This matter arises from the administration of the Estate. The Deceased died testate on February 21, 2002, at which point Johnson, the Deceased's ex-wife, was the guardian of the couple's two minor children. Both children reached the age of majority subsequent to the filing of this action. Johnson filed objections to the Executor's proposed First and Final Account, alleging that the Estate was bound by the terms of a 1993 Marital Dissolution Agreement ("MDA") to continue to provide child support and cover other expenses on behalf of the minor children. The Executor disputed those obligations and noted that the children began receiving $929.00 per month in Social Security benefits after their father's death. The Executor argued that the Estate was entitled to use the Social Security payments as a credit against the child support obligation.
¶ 3 The Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, after review of the parties' stipulated facts, issued an order directing that:
(1) the Estate was liable for child support payments of $700.00 per month to the minor children until they reach age 18, pursuant to the MDA; (2) the Estate was not entitled to use the Social Security benefits as a credit against the child support obligation; (3) the Estate was not obligated to contribute to the children's college expenses, as there was no enforceable agreement on that point in the MDA; and (4) the Estate was obligated to cover certain of the children's medical expenses pursuant to the MDA.
¶ 4 The Executor filed this timely appeal, in which she raises the following issues:
A. Did the lower court err in interpreting a Marital Dissolution Agreement (between Decedent and Deborah Rogers Johnson) to require that payments of child support be made from the Estate after Decedent's death, where, under applicable Pennsylvania law, the obligation of a parent to provide financial support to a child ceases when the child reaches age eighteen (18) or when the parent dies, whichever occurs first; where the agreement did not specifically provide for such payments but instead provided a life insurance option that Decedent's former spouse failed to exercise; and where Decedent made no provision for the minor children in his Last Will and Testament?
B. Did the lower court err in refusing to allow Social Security payments received by the minor children as a consequence of Decedent's death to be credited against any post-mortem child support obligations, with the result that post-mortem child support payments amount to a windfall?
C. Did the lower court err in interpreting the Marital Dissolution Agreement to require reimbursement from the Estate of medical expenses incurred by one of the minor children after Decedent's death?
D. Did the lower court err in awarding prejudgment interest to the objector with respect to unpaid installments of child support, where the Marital Dissolution Agreement made no provision for payment of interest, where payments were not in arrears at the time of Decedent's death, and where the lower court specifically found that the executor's failure to continue making payments of child support after Decedent's death did notconstitute a breach of the agreement?
Executor's Brief at 5 (emphasis in original).*fn1
¶ 5 We review the trial court's order according to the ...