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In re Estate of Chaney

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 16, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF JAMES J. CHANEY, JR., DECEASED: LILLIAN HUNT CHANEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX, AND ALICE ANN CHANEY A/K/A ALICE ANN CHANEY MCCLEOD APPELLANTS
v.
JOSEPHINE CHANEY APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/16/2015

         DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. MITCHELL M. LUNDY JR. JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: J. WALKER SIMS FRED M. RIDOLPHI JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: DANIEL OWEN LOFTON

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. This appeal comes from the probate of the estate of James J. Chaney Jr. During probate proceedings, a dispute arose as to whether James's last will and testament had been revoked by a subsequent divorce and property-settlement agreement. In the dispute, James's ex-wife and daughter claimed rights to real property located in Tennessee. James's widow moved the court to transfer the real property out of the testate estate. The chancellor determined that the will had been revoked by implication and granted the motion for transfer, which led to the real property's distribution under the laws of intestacy. We find no error and affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. James executed his last will and testament on June 5, 1962. At that time, he was married to Lillian Hunt Chaney. The will devised farmland, located in Crockett County, Tennessee, to Lillian. James and Lillian had one child, Alice Ann Chaney.

         ¶3. James and Lillian were divorced on May 5, 1969. They executed a joint property- settlement agreement, and in it, they agreed that Lillian would "relinquish any right or claim to the farm in Crockett [County], Tennessee."

         ¶4. On December 13, 1971, James married Josephine Chaney. James and Josephine moved from Memphis, Tennessee, to Olive Branch, Mississippi, where they lived until James's death on September 2, 2011. No children were born of this marriage, and James had only one child - Alice.

         ¶5. On June 22, 2012, Lillian filed a petition to admit James's purported will to probate in the Chancery Court of DeSoto County, Mississippi. Josephine contested the validity of the will and moved to transfer the farmland out of the testate estate. After a hearing on the motion, the chancellor issued an opinion, where he applied the factors of Rasco v. Estate of Rasco, 501 So.2d 421 (Miss. 1987), and found that the will was revoked by implication.

         ¶6. Lillian and Alice filed a posttrial motion to amend the judgment, to amend findings of fact, and for reconsideration or a new trial. The motion was denied. Lillian and Alice then filed their notice of appeal, and this case was deflected to this Court. This appeal considers two issues - whether the Chancery Court of DeSoto County lacked subject-matter jurisdiction ...


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