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Estate of Cherry

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 17, 2015

ESTATE OF VIRGINIA A. CHERRY LATE OF HENDERSON TOWNSHIP HUNTINGDON COUNTY COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; APPEAL OF: RONALD LOCKE

Submitted August 18, 2014.

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Huntingdon County, Orphans' Court Division, No.: 31-OC-242-2013. Before ZANIC, J.

Jeffrey A. Muriceak, Hollidaysburg, for appellant.

Gregory A. Jackson, Huntingdon, for appellee.

BEFORE: PANELLA, J., WECHT, J., and PLATT, J.[*] OPINION BY WECHT, J.

OPINION

Page 1205

WECHT, J.:

Ronald Locke, executor of the Estate of Virginia A. Cherry, appeals the orphans' court order entered on March 5, 2014. After careful review, we conclude that Locke's appeal is interlocutory and that this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider its merits. Accordingly, we quash Locke's appeal.

Virginia A. Cherry died testate on October 9, 2013. She was eighty-seven years old at the time of her death. Cherry left a will, which she executed on May 24, 2011. Therein, Cherry named Ronald Locke as the executor of her estate and made twenty-three specific cash bequests totaling $59,500. Cherry made two of those specific bequests to the First Baptist Church of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (" the Church" ),

Page 1206

equaling $11,000. Cherry also bequeathed the residue of her estate to the Church.

Pursuant to the terms of Cherry's will, Locke was empowered to sell or otherwise convert any real or personal property. Orphans' Court Opinion (" O.C.O." ), 5/20/2014, at 3. On October 23, 2013, the Huntingdon County Register of Wills admitted Cherry's will to probate and granted letters testamentary to Locke. On November 21, 2013, counsel for the Church sent a letter to Locke stating that, in light of the estate's likely insolvency, the Church was prepared to contribute funds to the estate in order to provide Locke with sufficient liquid assets to satisfy the specific bequests in Cherry's will, any inheritance taxes due, and the costs of administration. The Church anticipated that doing so would expedite the administration of the estate by allowing Locke to convey the residue to the Church in kind once all of the specific bequests had been paid.

On November 26, 2013, Locke mailed a letter to the Church rejecting its proposal. Locke reasoned that he did not have the authority to consent to the suggested arrangement because it was contrary to Cherry's intent, as evidenced by the May 24, 2011 will. On January 3, 2014, the Church filed a petition seeking to enjoin Locke permanently from selling all real and personal property owned by the estate.

After a hearing on February 25, 2014, the orphans' court entered an order denying the Church's petition for an injunction on March 5, 2014. That order provided as follows:

AND NOW, this 5th day of March, 2014, the Petition of the [Church] for an injunction is denied. However, since the [Church] has offered to pay all of the cash requirements attendant to the settlement of this estate, this [c]ourt will not authorize the sale of the personal property or real estate of [Cherry,] and would, upon application, enjoin any proposed sale of these assets.

Orphans' Court Order, 3/5/2014, at 1.

On April 4, 2014, Locke filed a notice of appeal. On April 9, 2014, the orphans' court ordered Locke to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b). On May 20, 2014, the orphans' court filed its Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion, in which it recommended that we quash Locke's appeal as interlocutory.[1]

Locke raises two issues challenging the orphans' court's March 5, 2014 order. However, before addressing the merits of Locke's claims, we must assess our jurisdiction to do so. For the reasons set forth below, we agree with the orphans' court that the ...


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