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Underwood v. Gillespie

Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, Division Three
594 S.W.2d 372 (Mo. App. 1980)


In 1966, Zella Bacon drafted a deed for 100 acres of land she owned (1966 deed). The deed provided a life estate to her brother, Gus Gillespie (Gus), with the remainder to Gillespie’s sons (defendants). Upon receiving the deed, Gus stated that he did not appreciate Bacon giving something to his sons, but not his daughter. Gus then tore up the deed. Upon Gus’s death in 1968, half of the deed that he tore up was found among his personal documents. However, after Gus died, the property in question remained in Bacon’s name and she continued to collect rent and pay taxes on the property. Bacon died in 1974. Underwood (plaintiff), Gus’s daughter, brought suit for partition, seeking to have Bacon’s property divided equally between her and her brothers as residuary devisees under Bacon’s will. The defendants argued that Underwood had no interest in the property on account of the 1966 deed, even though it was torn up. The trial court ruled in favor of Underwood, finding the 1966 deed invalid and granting her an undivided third of the property. The defendants appealed.

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