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Craig v. Craig

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 17, 2018

RICKY LEE CRAIG APPELLANT
v.
CHERYL CRAIG, JASEN MCDANIEL, AND JACOB CRAWFORD CRAIG APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26PR-17-248] HONORABLE MARCIA R. HEARNSBERGER, JUDGE

          Appellate Solutions, PLLC d/b/a Riordan Law Firm, by: Deborah Truby Riordan, for appellant.

          Tapp Law Firm, P.A., by: Tylar C.M. Tapp III, for appellees.

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Judge.

         Ricky Lee Craig, father of decedent Zerottie Lemans Craig, appeals the Garland County Circuit Court's July 21, 2017 order wherein the court admitted the decedent's October 18, 2003 last will and testament ("LWT") to probate and appointed appellant and Thomasena McNutt, the decedent's sister, as coexecutors of the estate. The court also found that the decedent's antenuptial agreement ("AA") removed his wife from the LWT but did not revoke the LWT or remove the residuary bequest to the decedent's stepchildren. On appeal, appellant argues that the circuit court abused its discretion by (1) declaring effective a residuary bequest when the condition precedent had not occurred, and (2) declaring the LWT effective when the later AA canceled it. We reverse and remand in part and affirm in part.

         I. Facts

         The decedent married Cheryl Craig on March 17, 2001. On October 18, 2003, the decedent executed his LWT, which provides in part:

5.1 Spouse Surviving: In the event my spouse survives me by 30 days, I give all of my property, whether real, personal or mixed, to my spouse.
5.2 Spouse Predeceased: In the event my spouse fails to survive me by 30 days, I give the residue of my estate in equal shares to Jasen Evan Lee McDaniel and Jacob LaRay DeWayne Crawford, my stepchildren/descendants, per stirpes.

         The decedent and Cheryl divorced on January 3, 2011. However, on May 10, the decedent and Cheryl entered into an AA, which provides in part:

WHEREAS, both parties desire to define the interests which each other shall have in the respective estate of the other during marriage or after marriage, in the event of divorce between the parties, and after the death of one of the parties herein; and
WHEREAS, it is the desire and intention of the parties that their respective personal and real property and financial affairs and matters be finalized as between the parties herein, such that this Agreement shall settle and determine in all respects, each party's respective interest in and to the other party's past, present and future property rights, claims, demands and actions, obligations, debts, and any other matters relating to each respective party hereto, such that this document is conclusive and final and legally binding upon the parties hereto, and their respective heirs at law; and
WHEREAS, it is the specific intention of the parties herein that they shall, when and if they marry, continue in the marriage relation but in the event of death or legal separation of the parties hereto, that this document shall conclusively settle and be legally binding upon the parties hereto, that this document shall conclusively settle and be legally binding upon the parties herein, such that the property rights in such legal separation or divorce are decided as specified hereinafter, and determine by the terms specified herein; and
WHEREAS, both parties herein desire and agree to accept all of the provisions herein in lieu of all rights which he or she might otherwise acquire or be entitled to or inherit from the other, by virtue of separation, divorce or death; and

         I.

First Party [decedent] now owns real property, securities, personal effects, automobiles and other personal property and property of a mixed nature which has been disclosed to Second Party [Cheryl] herein.... Any such property so acquired, as well as that property previously acquired prior to marriage and disclosed herein . . . shall constitute the sole and exclusive property of First Party, and Second Party, by her signature herein on this Agreement hereby relinquishes all right, title and interest that she might now have or hereinafter have or acquire by law in said property of First Party. Second Party hereby released all rights in the property or estate of the First Party which she might have by reason of their marriage, whether by dower, statutory allowance, intestate share, election to take against his Will, or any other means by which she might acquire an interest, at law or equity, and under the laws of any jurisdiction which might be applicable to said property. Further it is the specific intention of Second Party that such release shall specifically allow First Party to provide that all such property owned by him shall, in the event of his death, pass to the named devisees or legal beneficiaries of First Party, or according to the terms of his Will or other legal instruments in effect at his death, and that in the event of divorce or legal separation or death, said property shall be the sole and separate property of First Party, whether he dies with or without a Will.

         VII.

Both parties acknowledge to the other, by the signing of this Agreement, that in the event of the termination of the marriage relationship of the parties, by death, by legal proceedings or otherwise, that they will make absolutely no claim nor receive any interest in any part of the property, income or estate of the other party which was acquired before and/or during their marriage, or which arose out of all rights to that claim by reason of the marriage relationship, or other matters between the parties, other than as specified above. It is specifically understood that neither party shall take anything from the other's estate, and neither party has made, nor contemplates, any provision of the other in their respective Last Wills and Testaments.

         The decedent and Cheryl remarried on May 14, 2011, and the decedent died on April 10, 2017, ...


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