December 10th, 2013
It’s not uncommon to hear that someone gets left the family farm allegedly based on a promise to keep farming the land or to keep the farm in the family. What if the devisee never follows through on that promise and once he receives the property, he quickly sells it? In Johnson v. Burrell, the Georgia Supreme Court considered claims that a devisee of a pecan farm made false statements to the testator, upon which the testator relied in making a will.
In a new will, Hubert Johnson devised a 350 acre pecan farm to Donna Ellis Burrell. A few weeks after executing the will, Hubert died. Two of Hubert’s kin filed caveats alleging that Donna executed undue influence over Hubert and that she procured the execution of the will through fraud or misrepresentation. In Georgia, a will can be invalidated if anything destroys the testator’s “freedom of volition,” which would include misrepresentations upon which the testator relies in making a will. What were Donna’s alleged material misrepresentations? (more…)