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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:There are two appeals involving testamentary and non-testamentary transfers of property by James Bradford Ivy, who died in September 1990 and was survived by his wife Betty and his only child, Nadine. This appeal addresses a declaratory judgment action filed by Nadine Ivy Phillips concerning Paragraph III of James’s will, which purported to divide certain real property interests between Betty and Nadine, and a disclaimer signed by Betty. HOLDING:Affirmed. As a general rule subject to exceptions, a life tenant may not dispose of the corpus of the estate; oil and gas royalties and bonuses are generally considered corpus. Under the open mine doctrine, which is applied only to leases executed by the testator and in effect at his death, royalties and bonuses belong to the life tenant. When the testator expressly says otherwise in the will; controlling effect is given to the intent of the creator of the life estate. By using the phrase “as well as bonuses and royalty income,” James made a specific bequest to Betty of the royalties and bonuses from his real property in addition to the conventional life estate. The court addresses the appellant’s second issue: Did the disclaimer executed by d efendant limit to a conventional life estate the bequest made to her in Paragraph III of decedent’s will? The court finds that Nadine’s motion for partial summary judgment argued the legal effect of the disclaimer. Betty’s motion also argued the legal effect of the disclaimer. Both motions had the disclaimer attached as an exhibit, so there is no dispute about its contents. Nadine’s response to Betty’s motion asserts that the effect of the disclaimer can be determined as a matter of law and that the attorney’s affidavit is immaterial. The trial court specifically found that the disclaimer did not operate as a waiver, determining the disclaimer issue as a matter of law. Although they differ about the validity of that determination, both parties agree that the court had authority to do so. The court finds no reason to disagree with the trial judge’s conclusion that the disclaimer did not operate as a waiver of any part of the life estate to which Betty was entitled under James’ will. OPINION:Tom Gray, C.J.; Gray, C.J., Vance and Reyna, JJ.

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