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COA rules in favor of grandchildren in will dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals had to interpret a handwritten will from 1917 in a dispute among those who stood to inherit land in Benton County. The appellate court determined that the trial court properly ruled that John and Karen LeFebre could collectively receive a one-third share in the acreage.

In William Pereira and Joseph McConnell v. Monica Pereira, John LeFebre and Karen LeFebre, 04A05-1205-PL-241, Joseph Sleeper created a will that bequeathed 358 acres of land to his wife and upon her death to Margaret I. McConnell and Joseph W. McConnell, the children of Sleeper’s friend. His will said he wanted the land to pass to any child or children surviving them, “share and share alike in fee simple.” If there are no children, then the land should go to an Indianapolis hospital.

Eva Sleeper died in 1933, survived by Margaret and Joseph W. McConnell. They jointly inherited the second life estate. Joseph W. McConnell died in 1989, survived by Joseph McConnell and Julia McConnell Tarr. Julia McConnell Tarr died in 2007 and was survived by John and Karen LeFebre, referred to in the court opinion as the grandchildren. Margret McConnell died in January 2011 and was survived by adopted daughter Moncia Pereira and biological son William Pereira.

Joseph McConnell and William Pereira filed a complaint to quiet title naming Monica Pereira and the grandchildren. Tarr’s estate moved to intervene. The trial court entered summary judgment, ruling the grandchildren could collectively receive a one-third share in the acreage based on the construction of the will as “contemplat[ing] a generation skipping vesting process so that the death of either Margaret I. Pereira (McConnell) or Joseph W. McConnell establishes the class to which that ancestor’s interest passes and thus closes the class by the ancestor’s death and that both ancestors need not die before the class is determined.”  

Joseph McConnell and William Pereira, referred to as the children in the opinion, appealed. They argued that the will requires that any child of the McConnell siblings must survive both the siblings in order to receive a share and because Tarr didn’t survive her aunt, the grandchildren have no claim to acreage. The grandchildren argued the trial court properly construed the will to provide that Tarr became a vested member of the remainder class at her birth, or at the latest, when her father died.

The COA cited Alsman v. Walters, 184 Ind. 565, 106 N.E. 879 (1914), and Coquillard v. Coquillard, 62 Ind. App., 113 N.E. 474 (1916), in affirming the trial court.

“… we likewise conclude that the devise in fee simple resulted in an immediate gift, with an intervening life estate. The intended class, the McConnell siblings’ children, was identified and had no such child been born, the alternative beneficiary was Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote. “However, the McConnell siblings were not childless. Vesting occurred when the first child in the class was born; however, the class was open and the interest of the first child was subject to diminution of shares to let in others born during the life tenancy. When Julia McConnell Tarr was born, she was a class member. The trial court properly found that she had a vested interest, not contingent upon outliving the last surviving life tenant.”

 

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  1. Bob Leonard killed two people named Jennifer and Dion Longworth. There were no Smiths involved.

  2. Being on this journey from the beginning has convinced me the justice system really doesn't care about the welfare of the child. The trial court judge knew the child belonged with the mother. The father having total disregard for the rules of the court. Not only did this cost the mother and child valuable time together but thousands in legal fees. When the child was with the father the mother paid her child support. When the child was finally with the right parent somehow the father got away without having to pay one penny of child support. He had to be in control. Since he withheld all information regarding the child's welfare he put her in harms way. Mother took the child to the doctor when she got sick and was totally embarrassed she knew nothing regarding the medical information especially the allergies, The mother texted the father (from the doctors office) and he replied call his attorney. To me this doesn't seem like a concerned father. Seeing the child upset when she had to go back to the father. What upset me the most was finding out the child sleeps with him. Sometimes in the nude. Maybe I don't understand all the rules of the law but I thought this was also morally wrong. A concerned parent would allow the child to finish the school year. Say goodbye to her friends. It saddens me to know the child will not have contact with the sisters, aunts, uncles and the 87 year old grandfather. He didn't allow it before. Only the mother is allowed to talk to the child. I don't think now will be any different. I hope the decision the courts made would've been the same one if this was a member of their family. Someday this child will end up in therapy if allowed to remain with the father.

  3. Ok attorney Straw ... if that be a good idea ... And I am not saying it is ... but if it were ... would that be ripe prior to her suffering an embarrassing remand from the Seventh? Seems more than a tad premature here soldier. One putting on the armor should not boast liked one taking it off.

  4. The judge thinks that she is so cute to deny jurisdiction, but without jurisdiction, she loses her immunity. She did not give me any due process hearing or any discovery, like the Middlesex case provided for that lawyer. Because she has refused to protect me and she has no immunity because she rejected jurisdiction, I am now suing her in her district.

  5. Sam Bradbury was never a resident of Lafayette he lived in rural Tippecanoe County, Thats an error.

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