Geddings v. Geddings

319 S.C. 213, 460 S.E.2d 376 (1995)

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Geddings v. Geddings

South Carolina Supreme Court
319 S.C. 213, 460 S.E.2d 376 (1995)

  • Written by Mary Pfotenhauer, JD

Facts

When Pinkie Geddings (plaintiff) married Marvin Geddings, both had children from previous marriages. Almost 10 years into their marriage, Marvin and Pinkie signed an agreement acknowledging that each spouse had executed a will and intended for most of his or her property to pass to his or her respective children upon death. To effectuate that intent, each spouse also expressly disclaimed any interest in the other spouse’s estate except as provided for in the respective wills. The agreement stated that each spouse had made a full and fair disclosure of his or her assets to the other spouse before the agreement’s execution. After Marvin’s death, Pinkie filed suit against Marvin’s children (defendants), both individually and as representatives of Marvin’s estate, invoking her right to receive an elective share of Marvin’s estate. The children argued that Pinkie waived her right to receive an elective share when she executed the earlier agreement. However, Pinkie countered that the purported waiver was void because she executed it without receiving the statutorily required fair disclosure of Marvin’s assets. At a hearing, evidence showed that Marvin was secretive about financial matters and that the attorney who drafted the agreement did not discuss Marvin’s assets with Pinkie. The probate judge determined that despite the agreement’s statement that the spouses each received a full and fair disclosure, Pinkie did not in fact receive such a disclosure before the agreement’s execution. The purported waiver was therefore found to be void, and the judge awarded Pinkie an elective share of Marvin’s estate. The circuit court affirmed, and the children appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Finney, C.J.)

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