Articles Posted in Estate Planning

by
Ellis and Tomasia Ammons, the propounders of a will of Eulady Thomas, appealed a trial court judgment granting a directed verdict in favor of the caveators in a trial of the caveat to the will. Thomas executed a will in 2007; she was blind at the time. The will left all of her property to her caregiver, Tomasia Ammons, and her husband Ellis. Propounders petitioned to probate the 2007 will in solemn form. Margie Clouds and other members of Thomas's family ("Caveators") objected to the will's validity on the grounds, mainly that Thomas did not sign the will and that the witnesses to the will's execution did not sign it. The probate court admitted the will to probate in solemn form; Caveators appealed to the superior court and demanded a jury trial. Although the jury found that the propounded will was Thomas's valid last will and testament, the trial court granted Caveators' motion for directed verdict. At the time of trial, both witnesses to the propounded will were deceased. Propounders contended that the superior court erred in excluding from trial certain testimony of the attorney who drafted the will and his office assistant, regarding the authenticity of Thomas's signature. The Supreme Court concluded that on this matter, the trial court did not err in excluding the testimony, as the Court found no foundation laid for the assistant to testify that she was familiar with Thomas's signature such that she could recognize it if seen. Although there was conflicting evidence from witnessed as to whether the will had been properly executed, that simply created factual questions for the jury's resolution. The Court concluded that issue had been properly placed before the jury, and it was error for the trial court to grant Caveators' motion for directed verdict. View "Ammons v. Clouds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Estate Planning