FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTEENTH DIVISION
[NO. 60PR-14-772] HONORABLE RICHARD MOORE, JUDGE
Hirby and Robert S. Tschiemer, for appellant.
& Stott, PLLC, by: David W. Kamps and Adrienne M.
Griffis, for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge
Tami Darr appeals from the Pulaski County Circuit Court's
order setting aside a will, removing Ms. Darr as personal
representative, and appointing the son of appellee Francis
Jean Billeaudeau as personal representative. Ms. Darr
contends that the court erred in setting aside the will and
in excluding an audiotape recording of the execution of the
will. We affirm the circuit court's order.
decedent, Stephen Michael Herman, passed away on April 18,
2014, leaving a will that he executed on January 14, 2014, of
which Ms. Darr was the sole beneficiary. Ms. Darr's
mother had been married to Mr. Herman for three years in the
1970s; Ms. Billeaudeau was Mr. Herman's older half
sister. Mr. Herman had no other family.
trial, James Drew testified that he was a close friend of Mr.
Herman's, had known him for more than thirty years, and
had worked with him for almost nineteen years. He testified
that he spoke to Mr. Herman weekly during 2013 and noticed in
late 2013 that Mr. Herman was in a state of physical decline.
He also testified that Mr. Herman's short-term memory
"was gone" and that, on Veterans' Day in
November 2013, while they were having lunch, Mr. Herman had a
seizure after which paramedics took him to Baptist Hospital
where he remained for at least a week.
records introduced at trial revealed that Mr. Herman was
later admitted to UAMS Medical Center on December 18, 2013,
suffering from memory loss, confusion, paranoia, and
inability to care for himself. He remained hospitalized until
December 27, 2013, and was diagnosed with "moderate to
severe dementia." On December 26, 2013, Ms. Darr visited
Mr. Herman in the hospital after having been contacted by Mr.
Drew. It is not clear from the record exactly when Ms. Darr
and Mr. Herman had been in touch before then. Ms. Darr
testified that she had spoken sporadically with Mr. Herman by
phone over the years but that neither she nor Mr. Herman had
ever visited the other's home. She also said that she and
her husband had visited with Mr. Herman on a bench in Park
Hill after seeing each other walking in November 2013.
Darr said that when she returned to the hospital on December
27, 2013, Mr. Herman asked her to contact an attorney to
prepare a power of attorney to assist with his transfer to a
rehabilitation center. Ms. Darr had a power of attorney
prepared and brought the document to Mr. Herman for execution
on December 29, 2013. Sometime between December 27 and 29,
2013, Ms. Darr assisted Mr. Herman in moving from UAMS to
Sandalwood Healthcare, a residential rehabilitation facility.
Ms. Darr's husband, Andrew Darr, began visiting Mr.
Herman regularly, and on January 2, 2014, he learned that Mr.
Herman did not have a will. Later that week, Ms. Darr
scheduled an appointment with an attorney, Lisa Douglas,
regarding preparation of a will for Mr. Herman. Ms. Darr
testified that she never discussed a will with Mr. Herman or
made him aware that she had made an appointment with Ms.
Douglas regarding a will.
January 10, 2014, the Darrs met with Ms. Douglas. Ms. Darr
testified that she provided Ms. Douglas with the power of
attorney and with information about Mr. Herman's estate,
including his property, his financial accounts, his
retirement accounts, and land he owned in Roland, Arkansas.
She said that she never spoke with Mr. Herman about the
meeting or informed him that the meeting had taken place. Ms.
Douglas drafted Mr. Herman's will, which comprised one
page and provided in pertinent part as follows:
I have no children. I give, devise, and bequeath all my
property whether real, personal, or mixed, wherever, or
however situated or located to Tami Thomas Darr. Because of
Tami's love, care, and devotion to me, I leave all my
property to her.
I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Tami Thomas Darr,
as Executor of my estate under this, my Last Will and
Testament, to serve ...