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allowed against the estate of Sumner W. barred by the general statute of limitations Matteson, deceased.
of the state. Subsequently the cause was taken to the It is scarcely necessary to say that, as reUnited States circuit court of appeals for spects the first of these inquiries, we must the eighth circuit, where, on October 17, find an answer in the provisions of the Con1900, the judginent of the circuit court was stitution and statutes of Minnesota as interaffirmed, on authority of the case of Secur- preted and construed by the supreme court ity Trust Co. v.* Dent, reported in 43 C. C. of that state. A. 594, 104 Fed. 380.
The state Constitution and statutory proWhereupon a writ of certiorari was visions bearing upon the question involved prayed for and allowed, and the cause was are the following: brought to this court.
Const. art. 6,8 7. There shall be estab
lished in each organized county in the state Messrs. Edmund S. Durment and Ala probate court, which shall be a court of bert R. Moore for petitioner.
record, and be held at such time and places Messrs. Edward C. Stringer and Mo- as may be prescribed by law.
A Neil V. Seymour for respondent.
probate court shall have jurisdiction over
the estates of deceased persons and persons Mr. Justice Shiras delivered the opinion under guardianship, but no other jurisdicof the court:
tion, except as prescribed by this ConstituThis was a suit brought in January, 1897, tion." in the circuit court of the United States for Gen. Stat. 1894: the district of Minnesota, by the Black "Sec. 4523. The probate court at the time River National Bank of Lowville, incorpo- of granting letters testamentary or of adrated under the national banking laws of the ministration shall make an order allowing United States, and doing business in the to the executor or administrator a reasoncounty of Lewis and_state of New York, able time, not exceeding one year and six against the Security Trust Company of St. months, for the settlement of the estate. Paul, Minnesota, as adininistrator of the "Sec. 4524. The probate court may, upon estate of Sumner W. Matteson, deceased, good cause shown by the executor or ad. seeking to recover the sum of $5,000 and in ministrator, extend the time for the settleterest thereon, due on certain promissory ment of the estate not exceeding one year notes made by said Matteson in his lifetime, at a time, unless in the judgment of the and which were alleged to be the property court a longer time be necessary." of the said national bank.
"Sec. 4527. When there is not sufficient No defense was interposed as respected personal estate in*the hands of the executor* the execution of the notes or the ownership or administrator to pay all the debts and of the same by the bank. It was admitted legacies and the allowance to the widow and that the Security Trust Company had been, minor children, the probate court may, on on September 3, 1895, duly appointed by the petition of the executor or administrator, probate court of Ramsey county, Minnesota, order the sale of the real estate, or so much administrator of the estate of said Matte- thereof as may be necessary to pay the
The defendant, however, alleged in its same.' answer that, as the action was not brought Section 4471 provides that real estate until after the time limited by the order of shall descend subject to the debts of the inthe probate court for the filing, examination, testate. and allowance of claims against Matteson's "Sec. 4638. Every executor or adminisestate, nor until after the examination and trator shall render his account of his ad. allowance of the administrator's final ac- ministration within the time allowed him count, under the laws of the state of Min- for the settlement of the estate, and at such
nesota, the official existence of the defend-other time as he is required by the court, 13 ant company as administrator had ceased, until the estate is wholly settled. and therefore no action could be maintained "Sec. 4639. When the estate is fully adagainst it, and also-that the right to a judg. ministered the executor or administrator ment on the notes in suit was, by the laws shall petition the probate court for an order of Minnesota, forever barred, although they fixing a time and place in which it will exwere owned by a nonresident of the state, amine, settle, and allow the final account of and a recovery was sought in a Federal the executor or administrator, and for the court.
assignment of the residue of the estate to Two inquiries are presented to us: First, the persons entitled thereto by law. The whether, by virtue of the state statutes, the final account shall be filed in the probate estate of Matteson had been so fully settled court at the time of filing said petition. and administered, before the present action "Sec. 4640. Upon the filing of said petiwas brought, as to operate as a discharge tion the court shall make an order fixing of the administration, and as a bar to a a time and place for hearing of the same. right of the plaintiff to recover against the Said order shall be published according to estate in the state courts; and, second, if law. the first question must be affirmativelyan- "Sec. 4641. On hearing such petition, the swered, whether, notwithstanding such a probate court shall examine every executor condition of the statutory law of the state, and administrator upon oath as to the truth an action can be successfully maintained by and correctness of his account before the a citizen of another state in the circuit court same is allowed; but such examination may of the United States on a cause of action not be omitted when no objection is made to the
allowance of the account and there is no rea- , istrator. All claims shall be itemized, and son to doubt the justness and correctness verified by the claimant; his agent or attorthereof; and the heirs, legatees, and devi- ney, stating the amount due, that the same sees may be examined on oath upon any is just and true, that no payments bave matter relating to the account of any execu- been made thereon which are not credited, tor or administrator whenever the correct and that there are no offsets to the same to ness thereof is called in question. If from the knowledge of asliant. If the claim be such examination the account is found just not due, or be contingent, when presented, and correct the probate court shall allow the particulars of such claim must be statand settle the same, and upon satisfactory ed. The probate court may require satisevidence shall determine the rights of the factory vouchers or proofs to be produced in persons to the residue of said estate, and, support of any claim.” anless partition is asked for and directed "Sec. 4514. No action at law for the reas hereinafter provided, make a decree ac-covery of money only shall be brought in cordingly, and assigning said residue to the any of the courts of this state against any persons thereto entitled by law.
executor, administrator, or guardian upon “Sec. 4642. In such decree the court shall any claim or demand which may be present. Lume the persons and the proportion of ed to the probate court, except as provided parts to which each is entitled, and if 'real | in this Code. No claim against a decedent estate, give a description as near as may shall be a charge against or lien upon his be of the land to which each is entitled; estate unless presented to the probate court and such persons may demand and recover as herein provided within five years after their respective shares from the executor or the death of such decedent: Provided, That administrator, or any other person having this provision shall not be construed as af. the same; and a certified copy of any decree fecting any lien existing at the date of such of distribution of real estate may be record death: Provided, further, That said provi. ed in the office of the register of deeds in sion shall not be construed as affecting the every county in this state in which are situ- right of a creditor to recover from the next ated any of the lands described in such de- of kin, legatee, or devisee to the extent of cree; and such register of deeds shall enter assets received. This provision shall be apin his reception book the name of the de- plicable to the estate of persons who died ceased as grantor, and the names of the prior as well as to those who may die after heirs, legatees, or devisees, as grantees, and adoption of this Code.” shall make in such reception book so many "Sec. 4517. Upon the allowance or disalseparate grantor and grantee entries for lowance of any claim the court shall make such decree as there are persons taking real its order allowing or disallowing the same. estate in such county under said decree.”
The order shall contain the date of allow"Sec. 4509. At the time of granting let- ance and the amount allowed, the amount ters testamentary or of administration, the disallowed, and be attached to the claim court shall make an order limiting the time with the offsets, if any." in which creditors may present claims against tho deceased for examination and
“Sec. 4522. In case of appeal from the al. allowance, which shall not be less than six lowance or disallowance of any claim in months por more than one year from the whole or in part, the district court shall cer. date of such order; said order shall fix the tify to the probate court the decision or time or tinies and place in which the court judgment rendered therein." will examine and adjust claims and de- Section 4665 provides for an appeal to mands of all persons against deceased. No the district court. claim or demand shall be received after Section 4668 provides for serving notice expiration of the time so limited, unless for of appeal. good cause shown, the court may, in its dis- Section 4672 provides that the district cretion, receive, hear, and allow such claim court shall try the case as if originally comupon notice to the executor or administra- menced in that court. tor, but no claim shall be received or al- Section 4673 provides that pleadings shall lowed unless presented within one year and be made up as in civil actions, and the is-e six months from the time when notice of sues of fact tried as in other actions. the order is given, as provided in the next * Section 4676. In case of a reversal or section, and before final settlement, and the modification of the order appealed from the allowance or disallowance of any claim shall district court makes such order as the prohave the same force and effect as a judg. bate court should have made, and certifies ment for or against the estate.
its judgment to the probate court. “Sec. 4510. The order prescribed in section one hundred and two shall be published
“Sec. 4730. The probate court may, at according to law, and shall be notice to all any time, correct, modify, or amend its rec
ords to conform with the facts in the same creditors and persons interested. “Sec. 4511. All claims arising upon con
manner as a district court.” tracts, whether the same be due, not due, or
State eo rel. Lindekugel v. Sibley County contingent, must be presented to the pro- Probate Ct. 33 Minn. 94, 22 N. W. 10, was bate court within the time limited in said an application to the district court for • order, and any claim not 80 presented is writ of prohibition to the probate court, the
barred forever; such claim or demand may latter court having granted a petition to set be pleaded as an offset or counterclaim to aside a sale of real estate confirmed by the * an action brought-by the executor or admin.' probate court, and it was held by the su
preme court of the state that there was no the estate of a deceased person until after jurisdiction in the probate court, saying: the estate is fully administered. It contem
"The want of jurisdiction in this case is plates but one decree of distribution, by still further emphasized by the fact that the which the entire residue of the estate shall administration has been closed by the allow be assigned to those entitled to it, specifying ance of the administrator's accounts and his the proportion or part to which each is endischarge, and there is no attempt to reopen titled. Gen. Stat. 88 4639–4642. Read in it. So long as it remains closed the probate the light of the statute, and of the admis. court has no more jurisdiction over the es. sions of the answer, we think the com. tate, or the property belonging to it, or plaint would fairly admit of being con. which once belonged to it, than if there had strued alleging that all this had never been any administration, and there been duly done, and that the proportion was no attempt to institute one. The ju of the estate assigned to plaintiff was an risdiction of the court has been fully ex. undivided fifth. If this was the state of hausted, and it can do nothing further un facts, the jurisdiction of the probate court less it is restored in the manner pointed out over the property had ended. The effect of by the statute.”
a decree of distribution is to transfer the In State ex rel. Dana v. Ramsey County title to the personalty and the right of pos Probate Ct. 40 Minn. 296, 41 N. W. 1033, session of the realty from the personal repwhere, upon
an application for the final resentative to the distributees, devisees, or settlement of his accounts by the adminis- heirs. The property then ceases to be the trator of an estate and for a final discharge, estate of the deceased person, and becomes the probate court made an order allowing the individual property of the distributees, the account and discharging the administra- with the full right of control and posses. tor, such order was held by the supreme sion, and with the right of action for it court to be a final order discharging the ad- against the personal representative, if he ministration of the estate, and that, as a does not deliver it to them. If such an acfinal decree discharging the administration, tion is necessary, resort must be had to it operated to discharge the lien of creditors some other forum, for the probate court upon real estate which might have been pre has no further jurisdiction. Hurley v. Ham. viously sold to pay debts. The opinion of ilton, 37 Minn. 160, 33 N. W. 912.” the court was thus expressed :
State em rel. Matteson v. Ramsey County "The object of the application on the part Probate Ct. 84 Minn. 289, 87 N. W. 783, of the acting administrator was to submit is the last expression of the supreme court
his final account and close the administra of Minnesota on this subject to which we a tion. The order made was evidently so in- have been referred. The syllabus, prepared tended, and must be construed as a final or by the court, is as follows: der discharging the administration of the “1. The Probate Code of this state estete. The parties had their remedy by ap: makes no provision for the formal discharge peal, but the order could not be attacked of an administrator, but the necessary legal collaterally or treated as void, so as to war. effect of an order of the probate court al. rant subsequent proceedings to reach the lowing the final account of the administrareal estate, as if the administration was tor and its final decree of distribution, ag. still in progress and the estate still unsel- signing the whole of the estate to the heirs tles.
and distributees, is to remove the estate of “Thu omission of the lani from the inven the deceased from the jurisdiction of the tory, and the subsequent discovery of the court, and to render the office of administrareal estate of the deceased which was not re-tor, which depends upon such jurisdiction, duced to assets by the administrator or dis-functus officio. 2. After the estate has been tributed to the heirs, do not operate to re 80 settled and assigned, and while the final vive the administration and open the judg. decree of distribution remains unreversed ment or warrant further proceedings. The and unmodified, the probate court has no land descended to the heirs, subject to the jurisdiction to entertain a petition to issue claims of administration upon it. The ef-a citation to the administrator requiring fect of a decree assigning the real estate to him to further account for the property bethe heirs is simply to discharge it from the longing to the estate which is in his posses. administration, and, of course, the final dis- sion, or came into his possession.” charge of the administration must discharge The facts and law of the case were then the lien of the creditors.”
stated in the opinion of the court: In Schmidt v. Stark, 61 Minn. 91, 63 N. "Sumner W. Matteson, a resident of the W. 255. it was held that where the estate county of Ramsey, having real and personal of a deceased person has been fully adminis. property therein, died intestate on July 22, tered, and decree of distribution has been 1895. The Security Trust Company was made, assigning the residue of the estate in duly appointed by the probate court of such the hands of the personal representative to county, on September 3, 1895, administrator the parties entitled thereto, the jurisdiction of his estate, and it duly qualified as such, of the probate court is ended; and, if the and duly filed in such court an inventory personal representative does not deliver the of such estate. The probate court, on the property to the distributees, they may bring same day, by its order, which was duly puban action against him in the district court. lished, limited the time for presentinga It was said, per Mitchell, J.:
claims against the estate to six months from "The Probate Code neither authorizes nor the date of the order. All claims against provides for an assignment of any part of the estate presented to the court within the
time limited and allowed by the court were the judgments. Thereupon the relator herein paid by the administrator in the due course presented to the probate court a petition of administration. Thereafter, and on asking it to issue a citation to the trust comMarch 31, 1898, the administrator filed with pany, as such administrator, requiring it to the court its petition, representing that it file an account of any property in its posseshad fully administered the estate, paid all sion belonging to such estate, and to report the debts against the estate allowed by the what disposition had been made of the propcourt, and the expenses of administration, erty inventoried as belonging thereto, and and asking for the allowance of its final ac- to pay so much of the judgments as could be count, and the distribution of the residue of paid from such property. The court refused the estate to the persons entitled thereto. to entertain the petition, or to make any orSuch proceedings were thereafter duly had der in the premises, for the sole reason that upon the petition, that the court, on April it had no jurisdiction to take other or fur. 27, 1896, allowed the final account of the ad-ther steps in the administration of the esministrator, and made and entered its de tate. The relator then sued out of the discree of distribution of the residue of the es-trict court of Ramsey county an alternative tate, describing it, and thereby assigned the writ of mandamus based upon the facts here property therein described and all other es stated, which was directed to the probate tate of the intestate in the state of Minne court and the judge thereof. The answer of sota to his heirs and distributees, naming the respondents was an admission of such them, and determining the share of each. facts, and upon them the district court
“Afterwards, and on November 21, 1896, awarded judgment, denying a peremptory the Security Trust Company filed with the writ of mandamus, and discharging the al. probate court its petition, representing that ternative writ. The relator appealed from in drafting such final decree certain clerical the judgment to this court. errors were made, stating them, whereby "The question presented by these facts for certain parcels of real estate were errone- our consideration relates solely to the legal ously described therein, and other parcels effect of the final decree of distribution, as. omitted therefrom, and praying that the designing the residue of the estate of the de cree be amended so as to correct the errors. cedent to the heirs and distributees made by The court made its order so correcting the the probate court after the settlement and decree. Neither the order allowing the ad. allowance of the final account of the admin ministrator's account, nor the final decree of istrator. Stated concretely, the question is: distribution, has ever been opened or set Did the jurisdiction of the probate courti aside. On or before December 15, next fol. over the estate in question cease, and the of lowing, all the heirs and distributees named fice of administrator become functus officio, in the decree transferred and conveyed to the by force of the order of the court allowing Matteson estate, incorporated, all the prop the administrator's final account, and its erty so assigned to them by the final decree. final decree of distribution assigning the But the Security Trust Company still has in residue of the estate: We answer the ques. its possession and now holds certain stocks tion in the affirmative. The jurisdiction of as collateral security under a pledge made to the probate court in Minnesota is not con. it by the intestate for the payment of a debt ferred by the common law, nor by any stat. owed by him to it at the time of his death. ute of the state, but by our Constitution, and The value of the stocks exceeds the amount is limited to 'jurisdiction over the estates of of the debt which they secured. No order deceased persons and persons under guardhas ever been made by the probate court in ianship.' Const. art. 6, 8 7. It follows that, terms discharging the administrator. The in cases where a court of probate acquires Black River National Bank, a nonresident jurisdiction over the estate of a particular creditor of the intestate, on January 4, 1897, decedent, such jurisdiction is ended, and the made application to the probate court for office of administrator, which depends upon leave to file its claim against his estate, and such jurisdiction, becomes functus officio, have it allowed and paid out of the assets whenever such estate passes by operation of of the estate. This was denied by the court law from its final control. No argument for the reason that the administration of can make this obvious proposition clearer, the estate had been closed, and the court had for it is self-evident that, if the jurisdiction no further jurisdiction in the premises. Af. is limited to the estate of such deceased per. terwards the bank and another nonresident son, and the sole basis of such jurisdiction creditor each brought an action on their re- the estate-passes from its control, and the spective claims, which had never been pre right to the possession and control thereof sented to the probate court, against the vests by operation of law in the heirs and trust company, as administrator, in the cir. distributees, it has no longer any jurisdiccuit court of the United States for the dis- tion in the premises. It is true that our trict of Minnesota. Such proceedings were Probate Code contains no provision for the had therein that judgment, on April 17, formal discharge of an administrator, but 1899, was rendered in favor of the plaintiff the necessary theory and effect of its provla in each case for the full amount claimed sions as to the settlement of his account and against the administrator. That court di- the final decree of distribution, as interpretrected the judgments to be certified to the ed by the repeated decisions of this court, probate court as claims duly established are to devest the probate court of further against the estate of the intestate, and it jurisdiction when such final decree is made, was done, but the administrator refused to land to render the office of administrator take any steps for the payment of either of 'functus officio, unless such decree is set asido
on motion, or reversed on appeal. A clear "Lastly, it is urged by the relator that the illustration of this proposition is found in administrator still has certain stocks in his the decision of this court in the case of Hur possession belonging to the estate, and that ley v. Hamilton, 37 Minn. 160, 33 N. W. 912, it may also have after-discovered personal holding that the probate court had no juris- property of the intestate which it has not diction to entertain proceedings for the par. disclosed to anyone. There is no basis for tition of the real estate of a decedent among this assumption in the admitted facts, exthe heirs and devisees after the administra- cept that the trust company holds certain tion was closed, and the land assigned to stocks as collateral to secure its individual them in common by a final decree of dis- debt against the intestate. But, were it tribution, for the reason that, when such de- otherwise, the fact still remains that all cree was entered, the property passed out of such stocks and after-discovered property, if the control of the court, and it had no fur. any, passed by the decree to the heirs and ther jurisdiction."
distributees, for it assigns to them, not only The court then proceeded to cite and ap- the property therein specifically described, prove previous decisions, and particularly but also all other estate of the deceased in the language of Mitchell, J., in the case of the state of Minnesota. It follows that the Schmidt v. Stark, 61 Minn. 91, 63 N. W. probate court rightly declined to issue the 255, hereinbefore quoted. Other observa citation.” tions were made by the court pertinent to Some criticism is made, in the brief of the the case before us, as follows:
defendant in error, of the decision of the "It is, however, urged by counsel for the supreme court of Minnesota in this case; relator that the removal of the property that the issue was feigned and an imposition (that is, the estate) from the jurisdiction of upon the supreme court, and that the pur. the probate court in nowise affects the con- pose of the decision was to forestall the detinuance in office of the administrator of an cision of this court. estate. To hold otherwise, it is claimed, If, indeed, the judgment of the supreme would be a devesting of the probate court court in that case were relied on as adjudgof all authority to execute its decree of dis-ing a case which had already passed into tribution, leaving the administrator in pos- judgment in the circuit court of the United session of the estate, and the heirs and dis- States, we might readily agree, as urged by tribute remediless. It necessarily follows the defendant in error, that the decision of from the concession of counsel, although not the supreme court of Minnesota "should reintended by him, that the office of adminis-ceive little, if any, weight, by this court in trator becomes functus officio when the es- the consideration of this case." But that tate is removed, as the result of the decree decision is cited and relied on by the plain. of distribution, from the jurisdiction of the tiff in error, not as an adjudication of the court, for the office of administrator springs facts in controversy here, but as an interout of and depends for its continued exist- pretation of the statutes of the state. Cases ence upon the jurisdiction of the court over may be found of decisions made by a the estate. As well might it be claimed that state supreme court, even in exposition of the branch of a tree can live and put forth state statutes, after the institution of litigaits leaves and blossoms after its roots are tion in a Federal court, wherein this court dead, as to claim that the office of adminis. has refused to follow such a decision, if in trator can survive the jurisdiction of the it the state court has departed from its precourt over the estate of which administra- vious decisions, which were in force and retion was granted. It is not necessary for lied upon by the Federal suitor. Burgess the probate court, if it could do so, to re- v. Seligman, 107 U. S. 33, 27 L. ed. 365, 2 tain jurisdiction to enforce its final decree Sup. Ct. Rep. 10; Carroll County v. Smith, of distribution; the remedy of the distribu- 111 U. S. 556, 28 I. ed. 517, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep. tees in case their respective shares of the 539. residue of the estate are withheld from Here, however, the supreme court of them by the administrator is an action in Minnesota, in its last opinion, did not de the district court against him or against him part from or modify its previous decisions and his bondsmen. Schmidt v. Stark, 61 on the subject. On the contrary, it based Minn. 91, 63 N. W. 255.
fits reasoning and conclusions upon its fre- * "It is further urged on behalf of the re- quent previous decisions. lator that neither the probate court nor the Nor are we permitted on the record in administrator considered that the allowance that case to impute to the parties therein an of the final account and the entry of the de attempt to mislead the court
or to impropcree of distribution ended the jurisdiction of erly invoke its jurisdiction. The case seems the court, for it afterwards, on the petition to have gone before the probate court, the of the administrator, amended such decree. district court, and the supreme court, in the It is immaterial what they considered, for usual course of procedure, and the decision the view of either as to the effect of the de- finally rendered by the supreme court must cree could not change its legal result. The be received by us as a valid exposition of the decree was corrected, not in the exercise of law. any jurisdiction over the estate, but by vir. The conclusion to which we are brought, tue of the power of the court to amend its by an examination of the statutes of the records to conform with the facts; that is, state of Minnesota and of the decisions of to make the records speak truly as to the the courts of that state in construing and past official acts of the court. Gen. Stat. I applying them, is, that had a suit against 1894, § 4730.
an administrator of an estate been brought