Reed v. Shipp
Alabama Supreme Court
308 So. 2d 705, 293 Ala. 632 (1975)
Mack L. Reed died in 1973 at the age of 74. Mack never married, and he lived with two of his sisters, Lula Reed (plaintiff) and Bertha Reed, on 520 acres he owned in Alabama. Their neighbors were Mary and Cary Shipp, a married couple. Mack had an intimate relationship with Mary for the last 25 years of his life. Another neighbor saw Mack and Mary having sex in a barn in 1950. Mary had three children, Edna, Elsie, and Elvis Shipp (collectively, the Shipp children) (defendants), with whom Mack spent considerable time. Mack referred to the Shipp children as his children. In 1964 Mack executed a will leaving his real property to Mary as trustee in trust for the Shipp children, his household furnishings to Lula and Bertha, and the residue to the Shipp children. In 1970, after selling part of his land and Bertha’s death, Mack executed a codicil. The codicil reapportioned the remaining real property among the three Shipp children, left the household furnishings to Lula, and left the residue to Elvis. Mary had hired the codicil’s drafter. Just before executing the will, Mack suffered from an extended illness. As soon as he recovered, Mary rushed Mack to sign the codicil. After Mack’s death in 1974, Lula and another of Mack’s sisters, Fannie Reed Simmons (plaintiff), contested Mack’s will. Fannie and Lula argued that Mary exercised undue influence in procuring the will and the codicil. The trial court granted a directed verdict upholding the will, holding that there was no evidence of an undue activity. Fannie and Lula appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)
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