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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 7, 2017

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Elijah T. Settlemyre and Ronald W. Woods, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mary Lee Fennessy, as personal representative of the Estate of Madelyn Cleveland.

Attorneys 2:

Russell W. Adkins and William S. Lewis, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Donald Cleveland.

Judge(s): FRIERSON

In this probate matter, the decedent was a party to divorce proceedings in Georgia with her estranged husband at the time of her death. The decedent and her husband had executed a separation agreement as part of those proceedings, wherein they agreed that each party would individually maintain ownership of specified marital assets and execute any documents necessary to effectuate the agreement as to each asset. The decedent passed away before the respective transfers of property were made, and her personal representative filed an action seeking to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The trial court conducted a hearing in this matter and determined that the agreement had been rescinded by the husband, such that all jointly owned marital assets passed to him at the decedent’s death. The personal representative has appealed. We determine that the husband did not have a proper basis for rescission of the settlement agreement and that any purported rescission was ineffective. We therefore reverse the trial court’s order dismissing the petition filed by the personal representative and awarding ownership of all marital assets to the husband. We remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings regarding enforcement of the agreement.