Articles Posted in West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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In 2009 McCausland, executed a “Last Will and Testament” naming Fluharty as executor and bequeating the residue of his estate to a Trust, established in 2002. Months later, McCausland was physically incapacitated and living in a nursing care facility. It is alleged that McCausland dictated the terms of a new will to his nephew, Brown. McCausland did not sign or mark the typewritten will, and no one signed or marked it on his behalf. Two of McCausland’s health care providers in the nursing home signed the will and subsequently attempted to attest the document by signing affidavits averring that they “did witness [McCausland] stating that the new last will and testament contained his final desires.” In 2010, McCausland died and the original will was probated and recorded. More than a year later, the petitioners sought to have the original will revoked and the second will admitted to probate. The trial court held that, under W. Va. Code § 41-1-3, the second document is not a valid will. The West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed. A testator’s failure to sign his non-holographic will, or to request that it be signed on his behalf, renders the will void under these circumstances. View "Brown. v. Fluharty" on Justia Law

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Decedent died intestate as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Petitioner, the former spouse of Decedent, sought a share in the settlement proceeds from a wrongful death action based on her monthly receipt of payments from Decedent for a child support arrearage. The circuit court ruled that Petitioner was not entitled to a portion of the subject settlement funds because Petitioner could not demonstrate she was financially dependent on Decedent at the time of trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in ruling that Petitioner was not entitled to a share of the wrongful death settlement proceeds, as Petitioner's receipt of monthly arrearage payments was not sufficient to demonstrate the statutory requirement of financial dependence. View "Ellis v. Swisher" on Justia Law

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The circuit court found Frieda, Cordelia's elderly mother, to be a protected person. After determining that Cordelia was exploiting Frieda, neglecting her needs, and mishandling her finances, the court directed Cordelia to turn over to Frieda's conservator a full accounting of what she had done with Frieda's assets. Cordelia failed to comply with the order. The mental hygiene commissioner subsequently found Cordelia to be in contempt for failing to account for the disposition of assets belonging to her mother. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court's finding that Cordelia was in contempt; (2) affirmed that portion of the $50 per diem contempt sanction that applied prospectively from the actual date of the entry of the order of contempt; but (3) reversed that portion of the sanction that was retroactive, and reversed the sanction insofar as it purported to be for "compensation or damages." View "In re Frieda Q." on Justia Law

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Decedent executed a will in which all of his possessions to his wife. Decedent and his wife (Ex-Wife) divorced a few months later. One year later, Decedent died. Ex-Wife later sold the real property devised to her in Decedent's will to Petitioners. Thereafter, Decedent's mother (Respondent) filed an objection to final settlement, contending that Decedent's divorce from Ex-Wife after the execution of his will and prior to his death automatically revoked any disposition to Ex-Wife. The county commission ordered that Decedent's estate should pass to his heirs at law as if he had no will and found that Respondent was the sole heir to Decedent's estate. Petitioners subsequently filed a petition to quiet title to real estate and claim for unjust enrichment against Decedent's estate. The circuit court granted partial summary judgment for Respondent, concluding that Ex-Wife did not possess title to convey to Petitioners and that title to the subject real property should be quieted in Respondent's favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Respondent was not time-barred from claiming title to the subject property; and (2) the circuit court did not err in granting partial summary judgment in favor of Respondent. View "Johnson v. Kirby" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the grandchildren of Larry Hose, filed the instant action against Anthony Hose, individually and as administrator of the estate of Larry Hose, alleging that Plaintiffs were sexually and physically abused by Larry Hose, and that the estate of Larry Hose was closed through fraudulent conduct without an accounting for the claim Plaintiffs had against the estate. After the complaint was filed, three other individuals were added as defendants. The circuit court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs on the issue of liability. The circuit court then certified to the Supreme Court the questions asking the Court to determine whether an affidavit was sufficient to give notice of a claim against the estate of Larry Hose and whether the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint filed in this case. The Court found that the affidavit was sufficient in giving notice of a claim against the estate and that the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint. View "Hose v. Estate of Hose" on Justia Law

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In this matter the Supreme Court considered whether a decedent's will that directed "all my just debts be paid as soon as conveniently possible after the date of my death" obligated the decedent's estate to pay the mortgage on two parcels of real property devised to Respondents. The circuit court determined that the "just debts" clause required the decedent's estate to pay the mortgage on the two properties and deliver an unencumbered interest in the two properties to Respondents. Petitioner, the executrix of the will, appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the doctrine of exoneration was applicable to this case, and under the doctrine, Respondents were entitled to receive an unencumbered interest in the two devised properties. View "Estate of Fussell v. Fortney " on Justia Law