Interesting Tennessee case on bank accounts and undue influence. Mother had three children. Mother wanted a particular son, who was her primary caretaker, to inherit the family farm and her other two children to have her remaining assets.
While mother was in and out of the hospital recovering from a broken hip, the son, using a financial power of attorney, sold a portion of the family farm and deposited the proceeds in a newly formed bank account. The bank account was held by mother and son as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. After the mother’s death, the other children challenged the son’s ability to keep the proceeds from the sale.
The court found that the son could not keep the money. According to the court, there was a special relationship between the mother and the son. Any benefit flowing to the son out of this special relationship was presumed to be the result of undue influence. The son could not clearly and convincingly show that it was his mother’s will rather than his own to establish the bank account benefiting him after her death. This was especially true given the mother’s physical condition at the time, the son’s active involvement in the transaction, and the son’s long history of comingling and not keeping records on his and his mother’s finances.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seemed appropriate to highlight a story about Rosa Parks, and how her last wishes regarding the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development are finally being fulfilled.
Excellent case on undue influence in Tennessee. Bessie Thornton, a widow, passed away with one son, Clinton Thornton Jr. Apparently, Bessie did not want Clinton to inherit her estate. So, before she died, she executed a will leaving almost everything to her next door neighbor, Nan Kimbro.
After Bessie’s death, Clinton challenged the will. According to Clinton, Kimbro had unduly influenced Bessie. Among other things, when Bessie was in poor physical and mental health, Kimbro had made a will appointment, attended the will appointment, paid for the will, and kept the will in her safety deposit box.
Kimbro defended by emphasizing that she was good friends with Bessie and took care of Bessie. Kimbro helped Bessie get her mail, pay her bills, take care of her dogs, attend her hair appointments, and attend her doctor’s appointments. The attorney who prepared the will and Bessie’s hairdresser testified in favor of Kimbro.
The jury found for Kimbro. In an interesting turn of events, however, the judge threw out the jury’s verdict. Apparently, the judge felt that the evidence weighed in favor of Clinton. The case will now be re-tried before another judge and jury.
Interesting Tennessee case on undue influence. Franklin Murdaugh died at age 43 with no wife or children. Apparently, Murdaugh did not want his sister, Barbara Murdaugh Warner, to inherit his estate. So, before he died, he executed a will leaving everything to his cousin-in-law, Rudy Young.
After Murdaugh’s death, Warner challenged the will. According to Warner, Young had unduly influenced Murdaugh. More specifically, Young, who was also Murdaugh’s dentist, illegally prescribed Murdaugh hydrocodone.
Young defended by emphasizing the poor relationship between the siblings. It was Young and not Warner who allowed Murdaugh to stay with him and use his car when Murdaugh fell on hard times. Also, Young’s daughter had a close relationship with Murdaugh, and she was to inherit Murdaugh’s estate if Young had predeceased him. Finally, Murdaugh had sought the advice of an attorney when preparing his will.
The trial court found for Warner. The appellate court agreed. According to the latter, “Given the fact that, in addition to providing housing and transportation to the Decedent, Dr. Young was also the primary supplier of Decedent’s hydrocodone, we agree with the trial court that independent advice, without more, is insufficient to clearly and convincingly rebut the presumption of undue influence.”