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Ivie v. Smith

Supreme Court of Missouri

July 8, 2014

RICHARD E. IVIE, JIMMIE R. IVIE, LADONNA SMALL, AND BERNARD IVIE, Respondents,
v.
ARNOLD L. SMITH AND SIDNEY B. SMITH, Appellants

Page 190

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 191

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 192

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF SCOTT COUNTY. The Honorable Benjamin Frederick Lewis, Judge.

Smith was represented by Joseph C. Blanton Jr. and Shaun D. Hanschen of Blanton, Rice, Nickell, Cozean & Collins LLC in Sikeston.

Ivies were represented by Bruce Lawrence and R. Kye Lawrence of Lawrence & Lawrence LLC in Sikeston.

Zel M. Fischer, Judge. All concur.

OPINION

Page 193

Zel M. Fischer, Judge.

Arnold and Sidney Smith (collectively, " Smith" ) appeal the circuit court's judgment declaring changes to an estate plan void due to lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. Patricia Watson created a trust in 2002, which left substantially all of her property to her half siblings. The trust expressly excluded Arnold Smith, her husband. Several years later, after Watson's mental health had deteriorated, Watson signed two separate amendments to her trust, signed changes to beneficiary designations on her bank accounts and retirement accounts, and signed documents retitling several of her accounts and vehicles. The effect was that almost all of Watson's personal property passed to Smith when Watson died. Her half siblings sued and prevailed in a court-tried case. Because this Court holds that the circuit court's judgment that Watson lacked capacity is supported by the record and is not against the weight of the evidence, there is no need to address the undue influence claims. The circuit court's judgment is affirmed.

Factual and Procedural Background[1]

Watson, the decedent, was raised in Missouri. Early in life, she took a job teaching elementary school in the state of California. Despite the distance, she retained close ties with her half siblings, Richard Ivie, Jimmie Ivie, Ladonna Small, and Bernard Ivie (" the Ivies" ). Watson had three previous husbands before she ...


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