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In re Estate of White

Supreme Court of Mississippi

August 31, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF C.W. WHITE, DECEASED: ANITA WHITE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF C.W. WHITE
v.
CHARLES TOMMY WHITE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/09/2016

         DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. PERCY L. LYNCHARD, JR. TRIAL JUDGE

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: JOHN THOMAS LAMAR, III ROBERT RYAN REVERE JOHN THOMAS LAMAR, JR.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JOHN THOMAS LAMAR, III JOHN THOMAS LAMAR, JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ROBERT RYAN REVERE

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., KITCHENS AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.

          RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Anita White appeals the Chancery Court of DeSoto County's confirmation of title to certain real property located in Yalobusha County to Charles Thomas White ("Tommy"). Anita claimed the property through the residuary clause of Charles William White's ("Bill's") will. Tommy claimed the property through an earlier conveyance from his father and long-time partner, Bill. The chancellor found the earlier conveyance valid. Anita appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. This case is before the Court following remand. The facts of this case are contained in the prior opinion from this Court:

Charles William White ("Bill") and his son Charles Thomas White ("Tommy"), were partners in a business that owned and operated convenience stores. In 2000, during the course of the partnership, Bill married Anita White. In 2005, Tommy bought his father's share of the partnership for [$21, 318.10], but in dissolving the partnership, Bill and Tommy neglected to execute and file deeds transferring the partnership's real property.[1]
In early 2009, Bill's health declined rapidly, and Anita and Tommy began to clash over Bill's healthcare. Tommy wanted his father to receive life-sustaining treatment and Anita wanted her husband to die with dignity. During this time, Tommy realized that he and his father had failed to execute deeds transferring the partnership's real-property assets. Tommy used a durable power of attorney his father had given him years before to execute quit-claim deeds transferring the partnership property to himself.
[Tommy] and Anita continued to clash over who had authority to make healthcare decisions for Bill, so Tommy filed a petition for a conservatorship for his father's benefit and sought appointment as his father's conservator. Anita filed a counterclaim that challenged Tommy's fitness to serve as his father's conservator and sought to have Tommy return all assets he had transferred to himself using his father's power of attorney. The chancellor agreed that a conservatorship was appropriate, but he appointed a third party as Bill's conservator.
When Bill died in June 2009, the conservator filed a motion asking to be discharged from his duties and to be allowed to distribute the assets of the conservatorship to Bill's estate. The parties agreed to an order discharging the conservator and to a distribution of funds held by the conservator to Bill's estate. The order noted "that W.E. Davis is discharged as Conservator for C.[W]. White, and that formal accounting is waived, " and "this Conservatorship is closed." The chancellor's order made no mention of Anita's action to set aside the deed transfers.
In February 2010, Anita filed suit to set aside the quit-claim deeds and to redeem the real property Tommy had acquired using his father's power of attorney. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment. Tommy argued that the order discharging the conservator barred relitigation of the conveyances because Anita sought to have the conveyances set aside in the conservatorship. Anita argued that the transfers were not in Bill's best interests and that the transfers should be set aside and the property returned to Bill's estate. The chancellor held ...

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