Mowrer v. Eddie

979 P.2d 156 (1999)

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Mowrer v. Eddie

Montana Supreme Court
979 P.2d 156 (1999)

Facts

At age 100, Clara Mowrer (plaintiff) was living on her own in Kansas when she broke her hip. Peggy Eddie (defendant) was Mowrer’s niece. Peggy and her husband, Maurice Eddie (defendant), went to Kansas and convinced Mowrer to execute a power of attorney naming both Eddies as agents. The Eddies then used the power of attorney to gift approximately $700,000 of Mowrer’s assets to themselves and to arrange for $300,000 of Mowrer’s stock to be transferred to them at Mowrer’s death. The Eddies also moved Mowrer to their home in Montana. While Mowrer was living with the Eddies, the couple had Mowrer execute a new will. This new will left everything to the Eddies and nothing to any of Mowrer’s other relatives or any charities named in Mowrer’s previous wills. After approximately a year and a half, Mowrer moved from the Eddies to a care facility. While at the facility, Mowrer hired her own attorney, revoked the power of attorney, and asked for an accounting of what the Eddies had done with her money and property. In response, the Eddies petitioned to have Mowrer declared incompetent and to be named her personal guardians and financial conservators. Mowrer countersued for an official accounting of the Eddies’ actions as Mowrer’s agents. Ultimately, evidence showed that the Eddies had given most of Mowrer’s assets to themselves. The Eddies then spent the money for their own personal uses, such as buying real estate, remodeling their home, traveling, and making gifts to their son and grandson. However, the Eddies were not able to account for what happened to all of Mowrer’s money and property. After seven days of trial, the trial court ruled that (1) Mowrer was competent, (2) Mowrer did not need a guardian or a conservator, (3) Mowrer had not authorized any gifts to the Eddies, and (4) the Eddies had obtained Mowrer’s property unlawfully through fraud and duress. The trial court ordered the Eddies to repay Mowrer approximately $800,000 and placed some of the Eddies’ property in trust as security to ensure that Mowrer was repaid. The Eddies appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Warner, J.)

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