IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF PATRICIA MCDANIEL LANGSTON, DECEASED: ETHEL WILLIAMS, APPELLANT
MANSFIELD LANGSTON, APPELLEE
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: SUNFLOWER COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/02/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JANACE H. GOREE. TRIAL COURT FOUND NO UNDUE INFLUENCE AND UPHELD JOINT TENANCIES WITH RIGHTS OF SURVIVORSHIP.
FOR APPELLANT: ALSEE MCDANIEL.
FOR APPELLEE: LINDSEY C. MEADOR.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND ISHEE, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ESTATES
¶1. Upon Patricia Langston's death, her estate challenged certain inter vivos gifts that Patricia had given her husband, Mansfield Langston. The estate claimed the gifts were void as a result of Mansfield's undue influence. The chancellor found no undue influence and upheld the inter vivos gifts. Patricia's estate appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2. Mansfield and Patricia were married for approximately eleven years before Patricia's death on May 11, 2005. The couple had no children together, but each had children from prior relationships. They lived in Mansfield's home in Indianola, Mississippi, from the time they married in 1994 until 2002. They owned the home as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. On March 1, 2002, Patricia purchased a home on French Road in Indianola in her name only. She then quitclaimed Mansfield's home back to him.
¶3. On March 15, 2002, Patricia executed a will leaving her estate equally to her children. The will specifically excluded Mansfield, stating that " [Mansfield] has his own estate in his name, therefore no provision for him is made in this will." Mansfield executed a similar will, leaving his estate to his children. Mansfield was named executor of Patricia's will. On May 9, 2002, Patricia executed a warranty deed, conveying the French Road home to herself and Mansfield as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The home became their marital residence. On June 11, 2002, Patricia executed a second will. It was identical to her first will, except it named Patricia's mother, Ethel Williams, as executor. On September 4, 2003, Mansfield and Patricia executed a $200,000 certificate of deposit as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.
¶4. Upon Patricia's death in 2005, Williams opened her estate and moved to set aside the joint tenancies in the marital home and the certificate of deposit. Williams argued that the documents were void because Mansfield used undue influence in their execution, and that the home and certificate of deposit should become part of the estate. The chancellor presumed undue influence because of the confidential relationship between Patricia and ...