IN THE MATTER OF THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF JOHNNIE LEE JONES, DECEASED: BONNIE JONES DIXON, APPELLANT
ANNIE RUTH JONES, APPELLEE
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/29/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. J. DEWAYNE THOMAS. TRIAL COURT ORDER ENTERED DECLARING DECEDENT'S HOME A PART OF HIS ESTATE.
FOR APPELLANT: JULIE ANN EPPS, E. MICHAEL MARKS.
FOR APPELLEE: W. CLAYTON MCDONOUGH.
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. CARLTON, J., CONCURS IN RESULT ONLY.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ESTATES
¶1. This case seeks to resolve whether the deceased Johnnie Lee Jones's wife or daughter is entitled to possession of his former home. His will leaves a life estate in the home to his wife. But two other documents--an antenuptial (or prenuptial) agreement and a quitclaim deed--provide evidence of an intention that his daughter should have the house. The wife was awarded possession of the home under the will, as the chancellor found that neither document evincing an intent that the daughter should have the home was legally binding. The daughter now appeals. We find no error and affirm.
¶2. On March 19, 1997, prior to Johnnie's marriage to Annie Ruth Jones, the couple signed an antenuptial agreement. The agreement expressed an intention that Johnnie's daughter from a prior relationship, Bonnie Jones Dixon, was to receive his home upon his death. The antenuptial agreement states " that the house owned by JOHNNIE LEE JONES, 171 Vine Street, is to go to his daughter, BONNIE JONES DIXON . . . upon his death, even if he is married to ANNIE RUTH BROWN at that time." It similarly provided that Annie's property owned prior to the marriage was not joint property and could be left to the devisee of her choice. The couple married in June 1997.
¶3. On September 16, 1998, while married to Annie, Johnnie executed a will leaving Annie a life estate in the Vine Street home:
I own a house where I presently reside at 171 Vine Street, Jackson, Mississippi, which is in my name alone, and I leave this to my wife, ANNIE RUTH JONES, to live in until her death. The house then goes to my sister, ELIZA MAE WEBSTER, of Chicago, Illinois.
The will also revoked " any and all previous wills and/or testaments." Johnnie and Annie lived together in the home following their marriage, and, beginning in 2001, claimed the home as their homestead.
¶4. Then, on December 14, 2005, Johnnie signed a quitclaim deed conveying the Vine Street home to himself and Bonnie, in fee simple and as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. The quitclaim deed was not signed by Annie, although the two were still married at the time. The quitclaim deed states:
For and in consideration of the sum of Ten Dollars ($10.00) cash in hand paid and other good an valuable considerations, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, the undersigned JOHNNIE LEE JONES, GRANTOR, does hereby sell, convey and quitclaim unto JOHNNIE LEE JONES and BONNIE MICHELLE DIXON, GRANTEES, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and not as tenants in common, fee simple title in and to the . . . real property located and situated in ...