Law School Case Brief
Hawthorne v. Jenkins - 182 Ala. 255, 62 So. 505 (1913)
Where a deed is made by a parent to a child, whether natural or adopted, the burden rests upon the party assailing it to prove incapacity or undue influence.
Two daughters and a granddaughter of Dr. Thomas G. Jenkins, sought the annulment of two deeds made by Dr. Jenkins in his life time to two sons and a son-in-law conveying his farm of about 2,600 acres, and another to his unmarried daughter conveying his homestead and 160 acres of land adjoining. The two deeds included all of the real estate and substantially all of the property of the grantor. The grounds for annulment were that the deeds were void for the mental incapacity of the grantor at the time of their execution and that they were secured by the active and collusive efforts of the beneficiaries named therein by means of undue influence exerted upon the mind of the grantor. Also the petitioners argued that there was fiduciary relations existing between grantor and grantees at the time the deeds were executed, the grantees being the dominant parties in the transaction, and the grantor not having the benefit of competent, independent advice.
Should the deeds be annulled?
The Court held that the deeds in question were not procured by undue influence, actual or constructive, and that they ought to be sustained as the free and intelligent acts of the grantor. It was conclusively shown by the evidence, without serious conflict, that at the time he executed the two deeds here sought to be annulled Dr. Jenkins was not only sound of mind, but was alert and vigorous in the use of his mental faculties.
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