COA rules in favor of grandchildren in will dispute

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  2. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  3. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  4. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  5. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?