Pruss v. Pruss
Nebraska Supreme Court
514 N.W.2d 335, 245 Neb. 521 (1994)
Bessie T. Pruss and her husband, Albert Pruss, executed joint contractual wills in September 1980 designating most of their nine sons as beneficiaries. Bessie’s and Albert’s wills contained provisions stating that they were irrevocable unless both consented and that after the death of either party, the wills would become irrevocable. Before September 1980, Bessie owned 130 acres of farmland in Dodge County, Nebraska. At the same time that Bessie and Albert executed their wills in September 1980, Bessie conveyed a one-half interest in the farmland to Albert. One of Albert and Bessie’s sons, Francis (plaintiff), was a lawyer, and in November 1980 Francis drafted new joint contractual wills for Bessie and Albert. The November 1980 wills also contained provisions stating that they were irrevocable unless both consented and that after the death of either party, the wills would become irrevocable. These wills stated that as consideration, Bessie would convey her one-half interest in the Dodge County farmland to Albert, and Albert would convey his one-half interest in the Dodge County farmland to Bessie. Albert died two months later. In March 1983, Bessie executed a new will. Bessie was upset with three of her sons, Albert Jr. (plaintiff), Francis, and Richard (plaintiff), for unsuccessfully initiating guardianship proceedings for Bessie, and Bessie’s new will reduced the share of her estate that these three sons would inherit. Bessie died in 1990. Bessie’s 1983 will was offered for probate. Albert Jr., Francis, and Richard filed an action seeking that a constructive trust be imposed on Bessie’s estate, arguing that Bessie’s estate should be distributed according to her November 1980 will. Bessie’s remaining surviving sons, James, Rodney, Emil, Leonard, and Theodore (defendants), as well as two grandchildren, Michael and Carolyn (defendants), opposed the constructive trust, arguing that the 1983 will should be followed. The trial court denied Albert Jr., Francis, and Richard’s request, and they appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)
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