Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Courts finds that mother possessed requisite mental capacity for power of attorney; no undue influence; subsequent sale to step-daughter was upheld

BILLY DICKSON, JR. v. DANNELLA LONG, ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. April 9, 2009).

Son brought action to set aside the conveyance of real property from his mother to her step-daughter pursuant to the powers granted in a limited power of attorney naming mother’s step-son as attorney- in-fact. Son alleged that his mother did not possess the requisite mental capacity to sign the power of attorney and was unduly influenced by the step-daughter in signing the power of attorney. The trial court upheld the validity of the power of attorney and subsequent conveyance, finding mother possessed the requisite mental capacity to sign the power of attorney and step-daughter exerted no undue influence over mother to sign the power of attorney. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

Opinion may be found at the TBA website:

“We also do not find that the apparent errors in the power of attorney referencing Irvin Cage and Ms. Long as Ms. Cage’s children prove the alleged mental incompetence of Ms. Cage. The trial court found that the power of attorney was prepared at the request of Pam Crosby of First Union National Bank and drafted by the Bank’s legal counsel. Ms. Cage’s power of attorney mirrored that executed by her husband on the same day. As Irvin Cage and Dannella Long were the children of Dorris Cage, the fact that the power of attorney signed by Ms. Cage identified her step-children as her children demonstrates only that the person who prepared the power was not aware of the precise family relationship of the parties. We do not find the existence of the errors or the fact that Ms. Cage signed a power of attorney referring to her step-children of more than a decade as her children, or even “only other child,” is not “clear, cogent and convincing proof,” [t]hat on October 17, 1996, Ms. Cage did not understand the nature, extent, character and effect of the transaction.” Id.