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Rogers v. Pleasant

September 10, 1998

CAROLYN ROGERS
v.
ROBERT TERRY PLEASANT, JR., ROBERT TERRY PLEASANT, JR., EXECUTOR, AND JOE FRANKLIN PLEASANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pittman, Presiding Justice, For The Court

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/11/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DENISE OWENS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WILLS, TRUSTS AND ESTATES

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 9/10/98

EN BANC.

¶1. This is a will contest arising out of the Chancery Court of Hinds County. Carolyn Rogers filed this action to contest the will of her mother, Littie Jane Pleasant ("Littie"). Littie was survived by her three children, Carolyn Rogers ("Carolyn"), Robert Terry Pleasant, Jr. ("Robert"), and Joseph Franklin Pleasant ("Joseph"). The will at issue in this case was made by Littie on December 18, 1987. The sole devisees under the will were Robert and Joseph.

¶2. On July 7, 1993, Robert filed his Petition to Probate Last Will and Testament. A Decree to Probate Last Will and Testament was entered on July 7, 1993. On July 6, 1995, Carolyn filed her Petition to Contest Will and Objection to Probate of Will alleging that Littie's will was the product of undue influence. The Petition further alleged that Littie lacked testamentary capacity at the time of the making of her will.

¶3. A trial was held on February 13, 1997. On March 31, 1997, the trial court entered its Opinion and Order of the Court. The chancellor found that although a confidential relationship existed between Robert and Littie, Robert had overcome the presumption of undue influence. The chancellor also found that Littie had testamentary capacity at the time of the making of the will. On April 14, 1997, the trial court entered its Judgment Dismissing Petition to Contest Will and Objection to Probate of Will.

¶4. Carolyn appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing her petition to contest Littie's will. Upon a thorough review of the record and briefs, we hold that the trial court did not err in dismissing Carolyn's petition. Carolyn presents one issue for our review which is addressed below.

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECIDING THAT THE WILL WAS NOT THE PRODUCT OF UNDUE INFLUENCE OR A BREACH OF A FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP AND THAT THE TESTATOR HAD SUFFICIENT MENTAL CAPACITY TO MAKE A VALID WILL.

DISCUSSION OF LAW

¶5. Carolyn conceded in her reply brief that she did not put on competent proof at trial that Littie lacked testamentary capacity, and therefore that issue will not be discussed. The only issues to be decided by this Court are whether Robert was in a confidential relationship with Littie, and if so, whether he overcame the presumption that he exerted undue influence over Littie through the presentation of clear and convincing proof.

ΒΆ6. As to confidential relationship, the chancellor found that Robert was in a confidential relationship with his mother. Robert does not deny or attempt to refute that finding, but instead argues that he overcame the ...


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