Appeal by defendant from order entered 2 May 2006 by Judge
John O. Craig, III in Guilford County Superior Court. Heard in the
Court of Appeals 19 February 2007.
Wyatt, Early, Harris, & Wheeler, LLP, by Stanley F. Hammer,
Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, LLP, by Norman B. Smith, for
MARTIN, Chief Judge.
Dolen Bowers (decedent) died testate on 6 June 2003. Hazel
Bowers (defendant) is the widow of decedent and a namedbeneficiary of his will dated 5 March 2003. Calvin B. Bryant and
Mark T. Preston (plaintiffs) were named as co-executors of the
estate. By the terms of the will, defendant was to receive an
amount from decedent's estate sufficient to prevent defendant from
being able to dissent and claim an elective share. Defendant
elected to have her year's allowance determined by the superior
court pursuant to N.C.G.S. §§ 30-27, et seq. On 4 February 2004,
the superior court entered a consent order directing the estate to
pay defendant $112,115.20 as a surviving spouse's year's allowance.
Following decedent's death, the estate paid income taxes due
from decedent and defendant, as husband and wife, for the second
quarter of 2003. Defendant subsequently received state and federal
income tax refunds, which she retained.
Plaintiffs brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment
that the estate is entitled to deduct the year's allowance from
defendant's share of decedent's estate as a beneficiary under his
will, and that the estate is entitled to the tax refunds received
After the matter was heard on stipulated facts, the superior
court entered a judgment in which it ordered that the amount
previously awarded defendant as a year's allowance be charged
against her share of decedent's estate and that plaintiffs, as
executors, deduct one-half of the federal income tax refund and
$877.50 of the state income tax refund from defendant's share of
the estate. Defendant appeals.
 Defendant argues on appeal that the year's allowance paid
to a spouse pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 30-27 is not subject to a charge
against the surviving spouse's share in the estate. The drafters
of N.C.G.S §§ 30-27 et seq
. did not expressly indicate whether the
allowance is charged against the surviving spouse's share in the
estate. As a result, the question before this Court is one of
statutory construction. The primary function of statutory
construction is to ensure the purpose of the legislature. State v.
, 57 N.C. App. 602, 605, 292 S.E.2d 163, 165 (1982). To
this end, our Court considers the language of the statute, the
spirit of the act, and what the act seeks to accomplish. Comr. of
Insurance v. Automobile Rate Office
, 293 N.C. 365, 392, 239 S.E.2d
48, 65 (1977) (quoting Stevenson v. City of Durham
, 281 N.C. 300,
303, 188 S.E.2d 281, 283 (1972)). It is presumed that the
legislature acted with reason and common sense, and that statutory
construction should avoid the creation of absurd results. In re
, 347 N.C. 339, 341, 493 S.E.2d 418, 420 (1997). Parts of
the same statute dealing with the same subject matter must be
considered and interpreted as a whole. Comr. of Insurance v.
Automobile Rate Office
, 294 N.C. 60, 66, 241 S.E.2d 324, 328
A year's allowance is allotted to a surviving spouse to meet
immediate needs, maintain a standard of living, ease the mourning
process and keep the family intact. See Drewry v. Raleigh Savings
Bank and Trust Co.
, 173 N.C. 719, 723, 92 S.E. 593, 594 (1917).
N.C.G.S. § 30-15 entitles a surviving spouse to a year's allowanceof $10,000 dollars payable out of the personal property of the
deceased spouse and charged against the share of the surviving
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 30-15 (2005). As an alternative,
N.C.G.S. § 30-27 permits the following:
It shall not, however, be obligatory on a
surviving spouse or child to have the support
assigned as above prescribed [G.S. §§ 30-15 et
.]. Without application to the personal
representative, the surviving spouse, or the
child through his guardian or next friend, may
at any time within one year after the
decedent's death, apply to the superior court
of the county in which administration was
granted or the will probated to have a year's
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 30-27 (2005). N.C.G.S. § 30-27 provides an
opportunity for surviving spouses to apply for a larger allowance
than that which is allowed under N.C.G.S. 30-15. In re Kirkman
N.C. App. 515, 516, 248 S.E.2d 438, 439 (1978). The manner by
which the superior court arrives at the amount of the allowance is
set forth in N.C.G.S. § 30-31.
The statute, G.S. 30-31, is designed to permit
the allowance to the surviving spouse of a
solvent decedent of an amount sufficient to
maintain for a period that standard of living
to which he or she had been accustomed,
thereby avoiding the hardship which an
immediate and drastic reduction in income
would entail. This interpretation of the
purpose of the statute is borne out by its
Pritchard v. First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co.
, 38 N.C. App. 489,
491, 248 S.E.2d 467, 469 (1978).
Upon examination of the purpose of a year's allowance, it
appears in contravention of legislative intent to charge a
surviving spouse's $10,000 allowance against the distributive sharewhile not doing the same to a surviving spouse receiving
significantly more under the procedures prescribed by N.C.G.S. §§
30-27 et seq.
Reading our General Statute's year's allowance
provisions as a whole, N.C.G.S § 30-27 merely outlines an
alternative procedural method to pursue larger allowances in
superior court and should, in all other ways, be treated in like
manner with allowances administered pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 30-15.
In the present case, there was no error in the order charging the
year's allowance against defendant's distributive share.
 Defendant next argues that she was entitled to retain the
entire income tax refund from taxes paid on a joint North Carolina
tax return. She has not assigned error to the trial court's order
with respect to the refund of federal income tax.
Defendant contends that two statutes, N.C.G.S. § 105-152(e)
and N.C.G.S. § 28A-15-8, conflict on the issue. N.C.G.S. § 105-
152(e) provides in pertinent part:
A wife and husband filing jointly have
expressly agreed that if the amount of the
payments made by them with respect to the
taxes for which they are liable, including
withheld and estimated taxes, exceeds the
total of the taxes due, refund of the excess
may be made payable to both spouses jointly
or, if either is deceased, to the survivor
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 105-152(e). Defendant's refund, however, was
calculated according to N.C.G.S. §§ 28A-15-8, 9 (2005).
§ 28A-15-8. Upon the determination by the
Secretary of Revenue of North Carolina of an
overpayment of income tax by any married
person, any refund of the tax by reason of
such overpayment, if not in excess of two
hundred dollars ($200.00) exclusive ofinterest, shall be the sole and separate
property of the surviving spouse, and said
Secretary of Revenue may pay said sum directly
to such surviving spouse, and such payment to
the extent thereof shall operate as a complete
acquittal and discharge of the Secretary of
§ 28A-15-9. If the amount of any refund
exceeds the sums specified in G.S. 28A-15-6,
28A-15-7 or 28A-15-8, the sums specified
therein and one half of any additional sums
shall be the sole and separate property of the
surviving spouse. The remaining one half of
such additional sums shall be the property of
the estate of the decedent spouse.
Defendant argues that in dealing with two conflicting statutes, the
more recently enacted statute, § 105-152(e), prevails. See Bland
v. City of Wilmington
, 278 N.C. 657, 661, 180 S.E.2d 813, 816
The two statutes, however, are reconcilable. N.C.G.S. § 105-
152(e) applies to joint income tax returns filed by individuals.
N.C.G.S. §§ 28A-15-8 and 28A-15-9 deal with the administration of
a decedent's estate and applies to joint income tax returns filed
by the estate rather than individuals. The tax refund at issue
here has been properly administered in accordance with § 28A-15-9.
Defendant's assignment of error is overruled.
Judges HUNTER and STROUD concur.
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