COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT TRIAL JUDGE:
HON. FRANKLIN C. MCKENZIE JR.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: TERRY L. CAVES RISHER GRANTHAM CAVES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: S. CHRISTOPHER FARRIS
GRIFFIS, C.J., FOR THE COURT:
Jeffrey Van Quinn appeals the chancellor's denial of his
complaint to set aside certain deeds signed by his late
father, Earl Quinn, based on undue influence and a lack of
mental capacity. We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Earl suffered numerous medical ailments, including
depression. Earl's grandson, Shade Larue Quinn, along
with Bonnie Steadham, assumed the role of Earl's primary
care givers when his condition worsened. Earl required a
feeding tube, numerous medications, and assistance to stand
and walk. In January 2016, Shade moved in with Earl to care
for him full-time.
Earl owned the following property:
a. 166 acres of timberland in Jones County, Mississippi;
b. Five rental properties in Jones County, located at: 4413
Creek Avenue, 4411 Creek Avenue, 4407 Creek Avenue, 4415
Creek Avenue, and 832 Choctaw; and
c. His home, located at 4420 Creek Avenue, in Laurel.
On January 22, 2016, Earl asked Shade to take him to attorney
Danny Henson's office. Earl chose Hanson because of his
paralegal, Nita Tolbert. Earl always used the attorney who
employed Nita. While there, Earl signed three warranty deeds.
Two of the deeds transferred his interest in the timberland
and the five rental properties to Shade. The other deed
transferred Earl's interest in his home to his son, Terry
Quinn. All of the deeds were recorded that day, and Shade
placed the deeds in Earl's safety deposit box. Six days
later, Earl took his own life.
Jeffrey, Earl's son, filed a complaint to set aside only
the deeds that conveyed property to Shade. Jeffrey did not
assert a claim to set aside the deed that conveyed Earl's
home to Terry. Jeffrey claimed that Earl was unduly
influenced by Shade and that Earl did not have the mental
capacity to appreciate the consequences of his actions.
At trial, the chancellor heard testimony that Earl loved
Shade and considered Shade his "heart." Moreover,
Earl wanted to provide for Shade through numerous versions of
his will. The chancellor also heard expert testimony from Dr.
Mark Horne, an internist, who had never treated or met with
Earl. Dr. Horne opined that Earl was mentally incapacitated
and heavily medicated. His expert testimony focused on
Earl's medical incapacity, not Earl's legal ability
to transfer property to Shade in a deed.
The chancellor found that Earl made a conscious decision to
transfer interest in the property to Shade. The chancellor
determined that Earl always intended that the timberland go
to Shade and that the additional five properties were
transferred freely and without undue influence.
Jeffrey appeals the chancellor's judgment. We find no
error and affirm.
"A chancellor's findings of fact will not be
disturbed unless they are manifestly wrong or clearly
erroneous, or unless the chancellor applied an erroneous
legal standard." Wright v. Roberts,
797 So.2d 992, 997 (¶14) (Miss. 2001). "If the
[c]hancellor's findings are supported by substantial,
credible evidence in the record, this Court will not
Whether the chancellor erred in finding that Shade
rebutted the presumption of undue influence.
The chancellor determined that a confidential relationship
existed between Earl and Shade. Because a presumption of
undue influence existed, the burden of proof shifted to Shade
to show by clear and convincing evidence that the gift was
not the product of undue influence. Id. at 998
(¶16). To rebut the presumption, Shade had to prove by
clear and convincing evidence: (1) that he acted in good
faith, (2) that Earl had full knowledge and deliberation of
his actions and their consequences, and (3) that Earl
exercised independent consent and action. Id. at 999
To determine whether Shade acted in good faith, the court
must consider the following factors:
(a) the determination of the identity of the initiating party
in seeking preparation of the instrument, (b) the place of
the execution of the instrument and in whose presence, (c)
what consideration and fee were paid, if any, and (d) by whom
paid, and (e) ...