Baker v. Weedon

262 So.2d 641, 57 A.L.R.3d 1183 (Miss. 1972)


John Weedon was married three times. He had two children with his first wife. One of those children had three children who are the appellants herein and Ds at trial. His next marriage produced one child who is now dead. Subsequent to those two marriages, Weedon bought Oakland farm in 1905. In 1915 he at 55, married 17-year-old Anna (P) and the marriage had no children. P was not in it just for the money as there was significant evidence that she was there in both good and bad times, very bad times. The relationship between Weedon and his daughters from his first marriage was distant and strained. With an obvious intent to exclude his daughters and to provide for his wife, Weedon left his house and land to his last wife, P for life. The remainder was left to P's children if any and Weedon's grandchildren (D) were the designated beneficiaries if P died without issue. Weedon expressly failed to provide for his own children from his previous marriages. Weedon died in 1932. P remarried but did not have any children. Eventually, P could no longer farm the land, and in 1955 she ceased doing so but rented the property. It is undisputed that this rental income and her other income was not enough to support her. In 1964 the Department of Highways of Mississippi sought a right of way through the property just as the land was increasing dramatically in value. The surviving grandchildren were made aware of their remainder interests in the property. Until this notice, the grandchildren were unaware of their possible inheritance. The grandchildren were sympathetic to the plight of P. A settlement of $20,000 was negotiated, and P received $7,500 to construct a new home, and all the legal and administrative expenses were deducted from the shares of the three grandchildren and not taxed to the life tenant. A soil sale from the property resulted in proceeds of $2,500 with $1,000 going to completion of the home payments. The value of the property at the time of trial was $168,500 and its estimated appreciation in the four years following would set the value at $336,000. P eventually got sick in her old age, and wanted to sell the land to help her condition. P then sought a court order to sell the remainder of the property for living expenses. Ds opposed this sale. The lower court ordered the sale on grounds of economic waste based on the negligible value of the land for use in agriculture. D appealed.