Will Contest – Undue Influence

Dill v. Dill, [Ms. 1200814, Mar. 18, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). The Court (Bolin, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Wise, Bryan, Mendheim, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Sellers, J., concurs in the result) affirms the Jefferson Circuit Court’s judgment on a jury verdict in favor of Douglas Dill, who contested the purported last will and testament of his father, Walter Dill. Walter’s brother, Robert Dill, was the proponent of the challenged will.

The Court first explains that generally after a will has been admitted to probate, a contest must be filed in circuit court pursuant to § 43-8-199, Ala. Code 1975. Even though Douglas filed his contest in probate court after Walter’s will was admitted, the Court rejects the proponent’s jurisdictional argument. The Court explains “although Douglas’s will-contest complaint was filed in the probate court, that complaint is nevertheless deemed to have been properly filed pursuant to § 43-8-199, because, in Jefferson County, the probate court has concurrent equitable jurisdiction over estates with the circuit court, pursuant to Ala. Acts 1971, Act No. 1144, § 1. McElroy v. McElroy, 254 So. 3d 872 (Ala. 2017).” Ms. *19.

The Court rejects Robert’s argument on the merits for failure to submit a brief complying with Rule 28(a)(10), Ala. R. App. P. The Court also notes that the judgment was supported by substantial evidence, including that the will “was prepared by an attorney who had previously represented Robert, and Robert accompanied Walter to the attorney’s office on the day the will was executed. Approximately one month after the 2013 will was executed, the probate court, following a hearing, entered an order finding that Walter lacked the mental capacity to handle his affairs and appointed a permanent conservator for Walter.” Ms. *27.

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