Davis v. KB & T Co.

172 W.Va. 546, 309 S.E.2d 45 (1983)

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Davis v. KB & T Co.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
172 W.Va. 546, 309 S.E.2d 45 (1983)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

Pennsy and David Farley accumulated a substantial fortune and executed mirror wills after 55 years of marriage. Three years later, Pennsy suffered a mental collapse and remained hospitalized while David had several heart attacks. David executed a new will that left his personal property to Pennsy and the rest of his estate to a trust. David’s attorney suggested making the trust revocable. David named Kanawha Banking & Trust Company, N.A. (KB & T) (defendant) trustee with sole discretion to manage the trust property and transferred about $145,000 into it. The trust would pay income to David for life, then to Pennsy as needed for her support, and then the remainder would go to David’s heirs. If David inherited Pennsy’s property (about $700,000 plus a family home owned outright), ultimately his will directed it to her heirs. When David died less than two months later, his new will was submitted to probate, and an appraisal disclosed only $12,000 left in his estate. Dorothy Davis (described both as Pennsy’s sister and her niece) (plaintiff) sued on Pennsy’s behalf to renounce David’s new will, claiming Pennsy was entitled to a dower interest in everything David controlled at death, including assets in the trust. The court found the trust valid, making the trust assets no longer part of the estate to which Pennsy’s dower interest would attach, and dismissed Dorothy’s claims. Dorothy appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McGraw, C.J.)

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