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Notice: This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the Pacific Reporter. Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878. THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA IRIS ENDERS, ) ) Supreme Court No. S-9341/9391 Appellant, ) ) Superior Court No. v. ) 3AN-97-1124 P ) CONNIE PARKER, Personal ) O P I N I O N Representative of the Estate ) of JOEL W. KOTTKE, ) [No. 5446 - August 10, 2001] ) Appellee. ) ______________________________) ) CONNIE PARKER, Personal ) Representative of the Estate ) of JOEL W. KOTTKE, ) ) Cross-Appellant, ) ) v. ) ) IRIS ENDERS and RALPH KOTTKE, ) ) Cross-Appellees. ) ______________________________) Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Sen K. Tan, Judge. Appearances: Timothy R. Byrnes, Hughes Thorsness Powell Huddleston & Bauman LLC, Anchorage, for Appellant/Cross-Appellee Enders. C. James Mathis, Davis & Davis, P.C., Anchorage, for Appellee/Cross-Appellant. Before: Matthews, Chief Justice, Eastaugh, Fabe, Bryner, and Carpeneti, Justices. CARPENETI, Justice. I. INTRODUCTION Iris Enders unsuccessfully challenged the admission into probate of Joel Kottke's 1997 will, which named his companion Connie Parker as personal representative, on the grounds of undue influence and insane delusions. We previously upheld the superior court's rejection of that challenge. [Fn. 1] Iris Enders now appeals the superior court's denial of her AS 13.16.435 claim for costs and attorney's fees arising out of her unsuccessful prosecution of the will contest. Because the superior court made sufficient findings, which are supported by the evidence, as to Enders's failure to prosecute the will contest in good faith, we affirm the superior court's denial of Enders's AS 13.16.435 claim. Connie Parker cross-appeals the superior court's refusal to award her attorney's fees and costs under Alaska Civil Rules 82(b) and 79(b). Because the attorney's fees and costs provisions of Civil Rules 82(b) and 79(b) are inapplicable to probate proceedings, we affirm the superior court's denial of Parker's motion seeking attorney's fees and costs under these rules. II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS A. Facts Joel Kottke executed a will in 1983, nominating his stepdaughter Iris Enders as successor to his wife Martha as personal representative and leaving fifty percent of his estate to his siblings and fifty percent to Martha's children. After Martha's death in 1991, Kottke entered into a relationship with Connie Parker. Parker lived with Kottke and cared for him when he was diagnosed with cancer. In June 1997, four months before his death, Kottke executed a new will disinheriting his siblings and stepchildren in favor of Parker. [Fn. 2] The 1997 will nominated Connie Parker as Kottke's personal representative. After Kottke's death in October 1997, Parker obtained appointment as special administrator and sought to probate the 1997 will. Enders and Joel's brother Ralph Kottke then filed a petition to set aside the 1997 will based on the theories of undue influence and insane delusions. After a seven-day evidentiary hearing in July 1998, Superior Court Judge Sen K. Tan upheld the 1997 will and appointed Parker as Kottke's personal representative. Enders and Ralph Kottke appealed to this court. We affirmed the superior court's thoughtful and thorough decision. [Fn. 3] B. Proceedings Several weeks after the evidentiary hearing, Enders served Parker with a claim for administrative expenses incurred in the litigation of the will contest pursuant to AS 13.16.435. Enders's claim itemized expenses of $32,987.07; a later supplement itemized further expenses of $14,337.71. Parker did not formally respond to this claim. On September 21, 1998 Enders filed a petition for allowance of her AS 13.16.435 claim with the superior court. Parker opposed the petition and also moved for costs and attorney's fees under Civil Rules 79 and 82. The superior court denied both Enders's petition and Parker's motion. Enders appeals and Parker cross-appeals. III. STANDARD OF REVIEW Enders challenges the superior court's interpretation of AS 13.16.435; Parker challenges the superior court's interpretation of Civil Rules 79 and 82. We review a trial court's interpretation of statutes and court rules under the independent judgment standard. [Fn. 4] When construing the meaning of a statute under this standard, we "look to the meaning of the language, the legislative history, and the purpose of the statute" [Fn. 5] and "adopt the rule of law that is most persuasive in light of precedent, reason, and policy." [Fn. 6] We will not set aside factual findings unless clearly erroneous. [Fn. 7] IV. DISCUSSION A. The Requirements of AS 13.16.435 Alaska Statute 13.16.435, which governs the recovery from the estate of expenses incurred in estate litigation, imposes three requirements for the recovery of such expenses: If any personal representative or person nominated as personal representative defends or prosecutes any proceeding in good faith, whether successful or not, that person is entitled to receive from the estate necessary expenses and disbursements including reasonable attorney fees incurred. Thus, in order for the claimant to recover, (1) he or she must be a personal representative or nominated as a personal representative; (2) he or she must have brought or defended the proceeding in good faith; and (3) expenses must be "necessary" and attorney's fees "reasonable." [Fn. 8] It is immaterial whether the party seeking the expenses prevailed in the action; if the requirements are met, the party is entitled to receive reimbursement from the estate for expenses incurred in the litigation, including attorney's fees. [Fn. 9] 1. Enders is a nominated personal representative for the purposes of AS 13.16.435. Alaska Statute 13.16.435 explicitly provides that a nominated personal representative can recover expenses. Enders was nominated as a personal representative under Kottke's 1983 will; therefore, she is eligible to receive administrative expenses from Kottke's estate under the statute. [Fn. 10] 2. The superior court made sufficient findings as to whether Enders brought the will contest in good faith. Because Enders meets the nominated personal representative requirement of AS 13.16.435, she can recover her necessary and reasonable expenses if she brought the will contest in good faith. Parker contends that Enders should not be permitted to recover under AS 13.16.435 because Enders did not bring her challenge in good faith. Enders argues that she must recover unless the superior court makes an explicit bad faith finding, and that it did not do so. Although "good faith" is not defined in the probate statutes, the statutory obligations of the personal representative shed light on the meaning of that term. A personal representative is a fiduciary who is statutorily obligated to "observe the standards of care applicable to trustees . . . . [And who] is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate . . . as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate." [Fn. 11] "[A] fiduciary relationship exists when one imposes a special confidence in another, so that the latter, in equity and good conscience, is bound to act in good faith and with due regard to the interests of the one imposing the confidence." [Fn. 12] The fiduciary duty is "the highest standard of duty implied by law." [Fn. 13] And it is statutorily recognized as an obligation of the personal representative of the estate of a decedent. [Fn. 14] Furthermore, we have noted that "[l]oyalty and the disavowal of self interest are hallmarks of the fiduciary's role" [Fn. 15] and conclude that these factors are applicable to the fiduciary obligations imposed on a personal representative of a decedent's estate. We hold that "good faith" under AS 13.16.435 incorporates the statutory requirement that a personal representative act to benefit the estate, [Fn. 16] but does not incorporate a requirement that those acts actually benefit the estate. [Fn. 17] As Parker herself admits, the superior court made no explicit "lack of good faith" finding either in the seven-day evidentiary hearing or in its ruling on Enders's AS 13.16.435 petition. But it did make the following findings regarding Iris Enders's conduct and motives in its written decision: At no stage pre-trial or at trial did Ms. Enders claim that she was acting as personal representative. She makes this claim only after trial. . . . The entire tenor of Ms. Enders' case was a contest for her own personal benefit and the benefit of her family, not for the estate. . . . The real impetus behind the litigation is the Enders' family personal animosity and disdain for Connie Parker, the primary beneficiary of Joel W. Kottke's 1997 will. This immense distaste for Ms. Parker has propelled Ms. Enders to drain Mr. Kottke's modest estate through litigation rather than have Ms. Parker benefit from the estate. Her intervention in the probate of the 1997 [will] has only hindered the disposition of Mr. Kottke's estate in a manner that comported with his testamentary intent.[ [Fn. 18]] In this case, although the superior court did not explicitly state that Enders acted in bad faith, the strong language of the superior court's decision supports that conclusion; and the court expressly concluded that she "failed to act in the estate's interest." The factual finding by the superior court that Enders acted in her own self-interest is supported by the evidence and is not clearly erroneous. Such conduct is directly contrary to the fiduciary's obligation to act in the interest of the estate under AS 13.16.350(a). We hold that the superior court made sufficient factual findings regarding Enders's failure to satisfy the good faith requirement of AS 13.16.435. She is therefore not entitled to recover necessary costs or reasonable attorney's fees; accordingly, we affirm the denial of Enders's claim under AS 13.16.435. 3. Alaska Statute 13.16.435 does not contain a benefit-to-the-estate requirement. The superior court considered "whether the actions of the personal representative benefitted the estate" when it stated that her "conduct fails to meet the requirement that a personal representative must act to benefit the estate." [Fn. 19] We take this opportunity to make clear that AS 13.16.435 contains no benefit-to-the-estate requirement and that this is not a proper basis on which to determine whether a personal representative should recover reasonable costs and necessary attorney's fees. This is the first time we have interpreted AS 13.16.435. When interpreting a statute, we look to its language "construed in light of the purpose of its enactment." [Fn. 20] If the language of the statute is unambiguous and expresses the legislature's intent, and if no ambiguity is revealed by its legislative history, we will not modify or extend the statute by judicial construction. [Fn. 21] The language of AS 13.16.435 is unambiguous. It clearly states that a personal representative or nominated personal representative who has prosecuted or defended a probate action in good faith is entitled to recover all necessary expenses and disbursements, regardless of whether he or she prevailed in the action. [Fn. 22] Nothing in the text of the statute suggests that a court has the discretion to determine whether a personal representative's actions benefitted the estate before awarding a personal representative his or her administrative expenses. Our examination of the legislative intent and policies behind the statute and the Uniform Probate Code [Fn. 23] (UPC) yields nothing that demonstrates contrary legislative intent. Alaska Statute 13.16.435 is taken directly from the UPC, which Alaska adopted in 1972. [Fn. 24] Alaska Statute 13.06.010(a) states that the provisions comprising the Alaska UPC "shall be liberally construed and applied to promote their underlying purposes and policies." Alaska Statute 13.06.010(b) sets out five such purposes and policies. [Fn. 25] Two purposes support the conclusion that no benefit-to-the-estate requirement should be found; [Fn. 26] only one even arguably supports the opposite conclusion. [Fn. 27] We therefore conclude that there is no legislative intent that is contrary to the clear and unambiguous words of the statute. In sum, the text of AS 13.16.435 contains no benefit-to- the-estate requirement. The legislature's expressed policies and purposes in enacting the statute do not suggest such a requirement. Accordingly, we hold that AS 13.16.435 does not require a personal representative or a nominated personal representative to show that a will contest has benefitted the estate before he or she may recover expenses under the statute. However, because we conclude that the superior court expressly found that Enders failed to act in the estate's interest and that this, together with the court's other findings, supports the conclusion that Enders did not act in good faith, the superior court's discussion of the benefit-to-the- estate is harmless in this case. B. Rule 82(b) Attorney's Fees and Rule 79 Costs On cross-appeal, Parker contends that she is entitled to an award of Civil Rule 82(b)(2) attorney's fees and Rule 79(b) costs against Enders because she was the prevailing party in the will contest. We disagree. Civil Rule 82 provides for an award of attorney's fees to the prevailing party "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by law." [Fn. 28] Here, the legislature has expressly provided otherwise by law. It has provided that a designated personal representative can recover "necessary expenses and disbursements including reasonable attorney fees incurred." [Fn. 29] If a specific statutory scheme for attorney's fees exists, Civil Rule 82 does not apply. [Fn. 30] Therefore, Civil Rule 82 does not apply in this case. And since the statute also clearly covers costs incurred in the litigation, Civil Rule 79 likewise does not apply. Because AS 13.16.435 sets out a specific statutory scheme for awarding attorney's fees, Parker is not entitled to an award of attorney's fees and costs under Civil Rules 82(b) and 79(b). V. CONCLUSION Alaska Statute 13.16.435 does not contain a requirement that a nominated personal representative's actions benefit the estate before the nominated personal representative can recover expenses from the estate. However, since the superior court made sufficient findings as to the lack of good faith in Enders's prosecution of the will contest action, we AFFIRM the superior court's denial of Enders's AS 13.16.435 claim. Parker's cross-appeal is meritless; therefore, we AFFIRM the superior court's denial of Parker's motion for attorney's fees and costs under Civil Rules 82(b) and 79(b). FOOTNOTES Footnote 1: In re Estate of Kottke, 6 P.3d 243 (Alaska 2000). Footnote 2: The 1997 will left Parker an interest in Kottke's Anchorage property, left Enders an interest in Kottke's property in Kenai, and left Parker the residuary estate under a trust system that was effectively a life estate. Footnote 3: Kottke, 6 P.3d at 247. Footnote 4: See Compton v. Chatanika Gold Camp Properties, 988 P.2d 598, 601 (Alaska 1999) (citation omitted); Fancyboy v. Alaska Village Elec. Coop., Inc., 984 P.2d 1128, 1132 (Alaska 1999) (stating that we apply our independent judgment to interpretation of statutes (citation omitted)). Footnote 5: Fancyboy, 984 P.2d at 1132 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Footnote 6: Id. (citing Guin v. Ha, 591 P.2d 1281, 1284 n.6 (Alaska 1979)). Footnote 7: Alaska R. Civ. P. 52(a). Footnote 8: See AS 13.16.435. Footnote 9: See id. Footnote 10: See Uniform Probate Code Practice Manual 321 (2d ed. 1977) (a personal representative, duly appointed, may contest another will that, if valid, would supersede the one naming him, while enjoying the protection of section 3-720). Footnote 11: AS 13.16.350(a). Footnote 12: Paskvan v. Mesich, 455 P.2d 229, 232 (Alaska 1969). Footnote 13: See Black's Law Dictionary 625 (6th ed. 1990). Footnote 14: See AS 13.16.350(a). Footnote 15: Wagner v. Key Bank of Alaska, 846 P.2d 112, 116 (Alaska 1993). Footnote 16: See AS 13.16.350(a). Footnote 17: See infra part IV.A.3. Footnote 18: No. 3AN-97-1124 P (Alaska Super., September 21, 1999). Footnote 19: These formulations appear to address different issues. The first, "whether the actions of the personal representative benefitted the estate," involves the outcome of the personal representative's actions. The second, whether the personal representative "act[s] to benefit the estate," involves the motivation of the personal representative. We conclude, in this case, that Judge Tan's focus was on the latter test. We therefore conclude that he found as a matter of fact that Iris Enders did not act to benefit the estate and therefore acted in bad faith. We clarify that trial courts should not in future cases include any "benefit-to-the-estate" discussion, as the relevant inquiry is only whether the good faith requirement has been satisfied. Footnote 20: Yahara v. Construction & Rigging, Inc., 851 P.2d 69, 72 (Alaska 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting J & L Diversified Enters., Inc. v. Municipality of Anchorage, 736 P.2d 349, 351 (Alaska 1987)). Footnote 21: See id. Footnote 22: See AS 13.16.435. Footnote 23: Unif. Probate Code sec. 3-720 (amended 1993), 8 U.L.A. 184 (1998). Footnote 24: See ch. 78, sec. 1, SLA 1972. The statutes comprising the Uniform Probate Code in Alaska are AS 13.06 through 13.36. See AS 13.06.005. Footnote 25: AS 13.06.010(b) provides: The underlying purposes and policies of AS 13.06 - AS 13.36 are to (1) simplify and clarify the law concerning the affairs of decedents, missing persons, protected persons, minors, and incapacitated persons; (2) discover and make effective the intent of a decedent in distribution of the decedent's property; (3) promote a speedy and efficient system for liquidating the estate of the decedent and making distribution to the decedent's successors; (4) facilitate use and enforcement of certain trusts; and (5) make uniform the law among the various jurisdictions. Because purposes (1) and (4) are not relevant to our analysis, we do not discuss them here. Footnote 26: Subsection (2) ["discover and make effective the intent of a decedent"] supports this conclusion because a good faith will contest can be effective in the discovery of a decedent's intent. See Watts v. Newport, 9 So. 2d 417, 421 (Fla. 1942) ("[C]an it be said that it was not of some benefit to the estate to have both the proponent and the heirs . . . represented by able and industrious attorneys acting in good faith and earnestly representing their respective sides of the controversy in their capacity of attorneys for their respective clients and also as honorable officers of the court, to the end that the question of the validity of the purported will be thoroughly tried out and determined?"). Subsection (5) ["make uniform the law among the various jurisdictions"] likewise supports the conclusion because AS 13.16.435 is a verbatim adoption of section 3-720 of the UPC and because case law from other UPC jurisdictions with identical or nearly identical statutes overwhelmingly supports the notion that AS 13.16.435 does not contain a benefit requirement. See, e.g., In re Estate of Killen, 937 P.2d 1375, 1380-81 (Ariz. App. 1996); In re Estate of Holmes, 821 P.2d 300, 304 (Colo. App. 1991); Estate of Rosen, 520 A.2d 700, 701 (Me. 1987); In re Estate of Evenson, 505 N.W.2d 90, 92 (Minn. App. 1993); In re Estate of Watkins, 501 N.W.2d 292, 296 (Neb. 1993); In re Estate of Frietze, 966 P.2d 183, 187 (N.M. App. 1998). Nearly all of these states adhere to a literal reading of section 3-720, imposing only the requirements found in it -- that the claimant be either a personal representative or a nominated personal representative, that he or she have prosecuted the action in good faith, and that charges be reasonable and necessary. See, e.g., Holmes, 821 P.2d at 304 (citation omitted); Evenson, 505 N.W.2d at 92; Watkins, 501 N.W.2d at 296; Frietze, 966 P.2d at 187. But see Brideau, 458 A.2d at 747 (Me. 1983) (stating that under Maine statute, party who unsuccessfully contests will on basis of undue influence cannot recover attorney's fees from estate). Footnote 27: Subsection (3) ["promote a speedy and efficient system for liquidating the estate . . . and making distribution"] arguably may be impeded by a system that allows a challenger to recover costs and fees, thereby encouraging challenges and delaying liquidation and distribution. Footnote 28: Alaska R. Civ. P. 82(a). Footnote 29: AS 13.16.435. Footnote 30: See Bobich v. Hughes, 965 P.2d 1196, 1200 (Alaska 1998) (stating that statutory attorney's fees provision awarding full fees ordinarily takes precedence over Rule 82 provision awarding partial attorney's fees (citations omitted)); Whaley v. Alaska Workers' Compensation Bd., 648 P.2d 955, 959 (Alaska 1982) (holding that prevailing employer could not obtain attorney's fees because granting such fees would undermine purposes of Alaska Workers' Compensation Act and limit claimant's ability to seek appellate relief).