By Fred Franke
The Law Office of Frederick R. Franke, Jr. LLC
The Court of Special Appeals has delivered a useful reminder that the procedural rules governing appeals from the Orphans’ Court are unique and dissimilar to those governing Circuit Court actions. This is particularly true when determining whether an order is final for the purposes of an appeal and who is the aggrieved party to institute such an appeal. In this case, the procedural rules dictated the substantive results of the case.
The substantive issue involved in the matter of Estate of Kirsch, 2017 WL 2464517 (unreported) was whether a family partnership agreement with restrictions on transfer would void a bequest of the partnership interest to the decedent’s significant other and residuary heirs, or force that interest back to her family. The restrictions to transfer followed a commonplace pattern permitting only gratuitous transfers to certain family members but also giving those family members a right of first refusal in the event of any bona fide offer to purchase the interest by a third party. That latter provision, of course, is necessary in order to sidestep the common law rule against unreasonable restraints on the alienation of property.
The federal court, in a companion action, upheld the partnership restrictive transfer provisions. The personal representative, who was the significant other of the decedent and the intended beneficiary of her partnership interests, pivoted and claimed to have received a bona fide offer to purchase from himself individually. Obviously, this was an attempt to sidestep the general provisions prohibiting the transfer of the interest to a non-family member. [Read more…]