July 5, 2005
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
This matter presents an appeal from a decision of Judge Carangelo of the Probate Court for the District of Orange, Connecticut. Plaintiff's Exhibit Two. The appellant Jane Saccu, Executrix of the Estate of Giacomo Barretta under a will executed by the testator on August 10, 1995 (Plaintiff's Exhibit One) filed an accounting on January 8, 2004 (Plaintiff's Exhibit Three) which was replaced by a subsequent accounting some time prior to March 24, 2005. (Plaintiff's Exhibit Four.) Both accountings listed expenditures made by the executrix Saccu to which one of the beneficiaries took issue as items improperly charged to the estate. After hearing the court ordered that certain of the executrix's expenditures pertaining to roof repairs to the dwelling owned by the decedent, repairs to the porch and outside steps and real estate taxes on the property for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 be repaid to the estate as these expenses were properly the personal obligations of the executrix. The court also ordered the removal of Ms. Saccu, and, the filing of a revised accounting. From that decision the plaintiff Jane Saccu appeals.
The will of Giacomo Barretta gave a right of occupancy to Saccu and her brother Charles Barretta under paragraph five for the duration of their lives "upon the express condition that they pay the real estate taxes, homeowner's insurance, utilities and ordinary maintenance and repairs."
Upon the termination of their rights of occupancy the testator's other two children were to inherit the dwelling. Richard Barretta, the son to whom the testator devised the dwelling subsequent to the life use of the executrix and appellant herein, took exception to the expenditures noted above and filed a motion for the new accounting and removal of his sister Jane Saccu as executrix.
The interim accounting filed by Ms. Saccu who resides on the property with the life use indicates that all the expenses of the property including taxes and repairs as well as utilities and insurance were paid for out of estate funds. Apart from the specific provision in the will as to the life tenant's obligations for certain expenses it is accepted law that the life tenant bear the expenses of maintaining the property by performing ordinary repairs to maintain the property is as good repair as when the tenant assumed possession. The replacement of the roof is an item of maintenance for without a water-tight roof the property could be ruined, and other repairs of a more permanent nature done without the acquiescence of the remaindermen are at the tenant's expense. See 51 Am.Jur.2nd, Second 33.
The use of the estate funds for these expenses was clearly improper and Judge Carangelo's order requiring Ms. Saccu to reimburse the estate for monies so expended was proper, as well as his order removing her as the fiduciary of the estate.
Judge Carangelo's orders are adopted by this court and judgment may enter dismissing the appeal.
George W. Ripley II Judge Trial Referee