ESTATE OF BONNIE JEAN HUBERT, also known as Bonnie Jean Pease, Deceased.
CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON OCTOBER 3, 2016
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT BROWN
COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE SCOTT P. MYREN Judge
WILLIAM D. GERDES JERALD M. MCNEARY, JR. of William D.
Gerdes, P.C. Aberdeen, South Dakota Attorneys for appellants
Lynn and Lisa Schock.
H. HIEB ZACHARY W. PETERSON of Richardson, Wyly, Wise, Sauck
& Hieb, LLP Aberdeen, South Dakota Attorneys for appellee
Donna Mae Sedivy.
Bonnie Jean Pease died leaving a
holographic will. The circuit court ruled that the will
devised all residual property to Douglas Hubert and nothing
to Lisa and Lynn Schock. The court ruled that Pease only
intended Schocks to be personal representatives who were to
execute the will. Schocks appeal. We reverse.
and Procedural History
Pease executed a holographic will while in the penitentiary
approximately seven months before her death on August 4,
2013. The will disinherited Pease's mother Donna Sedivy,
her sister Beverly Shimmin, and her brother Brian Hubert, but
not her brother Douglas Hubert. The will explained the
disinheritances as well as her other wishes. With respect to
her wishes, Pease indicated that Douglas had "some right
to acquire some of [her] wealth, " that she owed her
friends Lisa and Lynn Schock "for their amazing precious
support, " that she needed to provide care for her bird
"Cocky, " and that she wanted to provide funding
for a lawsuit against the State and the South Dakota
Women's Prison. Following this explanatory language,
Pease wrote gifting language that provided:
Hence, I give all my belongings to Lisa and Lynn Schock
contingent on them giving a share to my brother Douglas Dean
Hubert and for Cocky's new keeper mom search, and making
some arrangements for litigation start monies to correct
injustices at SDWP in Pierre.
foregoing language was followed by a break and a new
paragraph concerning "executors." It provided:
Specifically I name Lisa & Lynn Schock the Executors of
my estate. I have already transferred many things to them
prior to my death. This is for what remains and I [sic] Dated
this 10th day of January 2013.
The circuit court admitted the will to probate and held an
evidentiary hearing to determine whether the will could be
executed and if so, how to execute it. Following the hearing,
the court interpreted the will to mean that Pease did not
intend to devise anything to Schocks. The court ruled that
Pease only intended to appoint them as personal
representatives who were to set aside funds to search for a
new home for Cocky and fund litigation against the State; and
after that, Schocks were to distribute the entire residual
estate to Douglas.
Schocks appeal. They argue that the gifting language of the