Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals
District, Duchesne The Honorable Samuel P. Chiara No.
C. Rammell, Sandy, for petitioner.
Hogelin, Benjamin T. Lakey, Provo, for respondents.
Justice Himonas authored the opinion of the Court, in which
Chief Justice Durrant, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice
Durham, and Justice Pearce joined.
1 This case arises out of a provision in Gordon Warren
Womack's will that left a life estate in oil, gas, and
mineral properties to his children, with the remainder to his
grandchildren. Twenty-two years after Gordon Womack's
estate was settled, one of his sons lodged a petition to
reopen the estate and to interpret the provision, arguing
that it had not been construed in past district court orders
regarding his father's estate and, therefore, was not
barred by a statute of limitations. We disagree and hold that
the petition is severely untimely. Therefore, except as set
forth below, infra ¶ 15, we affirm the decision
of the court of appeals.
2 Gordon Warren Womack (Decedent) died in May 1989, leaving
three children: Gordon Douglas Womack (Douglas or Mr.
Womack), Gloria Womack (Gloria), and Jeff Womack (Jeff).
Decedent's will was formally probated the next month,
with Gloria and Jeff appointed as the personal
representatives of Decedent's estate.
3 The district court entered an estate-closing order in 1990.
A year and two months later, the personal representatives
petitioned the court to reopen the estate, in part so the
court could construe a provision in the will that addressed
oil, gas, and mineral rights. The provision states that
the oil, gas and mineral rights under the said property
together with any other oil, gas and mineral rights of which
I am seized or possessed at the time of my death, are devised
to each of my children, share and share alike, for life,
remainder to the children of each of my children, each of my
grandchildren to divide their parent's share by
representation per stirpes and not per
(Emphases in original).
4 On June 3, 1991, the district court reopened the estate and
held that the oil, gas, and mineral rights provision
"shall be construed to mean that it was the
decedent's intent that all children of his children be
included, adopted or natural, who are or have been in being
at the time of death of their parent who is a child of
decedent." The court in July 1992 entered an amended
estate-closing order stating that additional assets should be
divided equally among Gloria, Jeff, and Douglas, and that if
the "assets are, or include, mineral rights, a remainder
interest in such mineral rights to the grandchildren of the
decedent be provided, as appropriate, pursuant to the
requirements of the decedent's Will as construed by this
court's Order of June 3, 1991." The schedule of
distribution attached to the 1992 estate order provided each
of the children with a "1/3 Life Estate Interest"
in the "Mineral Properties" and stated that each
grandchild is to receive "an undivided remainder