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Case No. 18-1405

In the Matter of the Estate of Freeman Adams, Deceased.

The Estate of Dorothy Fisher, by and through her executor, John H. Fisher, Appellant

Attorney for Appellant

Nathan J. Schroeder and David J. Dutton

Attorney for Appellees Scott Adams and Nathan Adams

Patrick B. Dillon

Attorney for Appellee Edward Brannon

John W. Hofmeyer

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Sep 25, 2019

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Fayette County, Margaret L. Lingreen, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (19 pages)

            A will contestant appeals the probate court’s rulings (1) dismissing the contestant’s petition in probate seeking to open an intestate estate for the decedent, (2) sustaining the petition of a beneficiary and proponent of the decedent’s 2011 will to probate the decedent’s will, and (3) sustaining the motion for a directed verdict on a claim of undue influence.  OPINION HOLDS:  Upon our review, we find the record evidence fully supports the probate court’s conclusion that the decedent was legally competent when he executed his will in 2011.  Consequently, even assuming without deciding the court should have placed the burden of proof upon the proponents of the decedent’s will to show the decedent had testamentary capacity to execute his will when it was executed, the will’s proponents met their burden.  We discern no abuse of discretion under the facts of the case concerning an expert’s testimony regarding the decedent’s competence, and we find no error in the court’s conclusion that the contestant failed to prove the decedent’s will resulted from undue influence.  Accordingly, we affirm the probate court’s rulings dismissing the contestant’s petition, sustaining a will proponent’s directed verdict as to the claim of undue influence, and sustaining another will proponent’s petition for probate of the decedent’s will.

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