Beeson v. Beeson, CA

Decision Date28 March 1984
Docket NumberNo. CA,CA
Citation11 Ark.App. 79,667 S.W.2d 368
PartiesCharles R. BEESON and Jeanne H. Beeson, Appellants, v. Mary Lelia BEESON and Ulrich R. Beeson, Appellees. 83-141.
CourtArkansas Court of Appeals

Larry W. Chandler, Magnolia, and Robert R. Wright, Little Rock, for appellants.

Keith, Clegg & Eckert, Magnolia, for appellees.

CRACRAFT, Judge.

Charles R. Beeson and Jeanne H. Beeson appeal from a decree of the chancery court imposing a constructive trust on the title to lands conveyed to Charles R. Beeson by his mother, Mary Lelia Beeson, and ordering him to account for rents and profits derived from the lands in issue during the period of the trust. The appellants contend that the court erred in not ruling that the evidence of oral trust agreements was inadmissible under the statute of frauds, that the evidence did not support findings of those facts giving rise to a constructive trust, and in not finding that the claim of appellee was barred by the statute of limitations, laches and estoppel. We do not agree that the chancellor erred in his findings of fact and conclusions of law, but we do modify the relief granted.

There are four deeds in issue in this litigation. One of them was executed by the appellee on July 23, 1965 and another on July 26, 1965. Both of those deeds were duly recorded on July 26, 1965. The other two deeds were both dated August 2, 1967 but were not recorded until April 22, 1977. 1 The appellant contended that the deeds in issue were intended to be absolute gifts and were part of a comprehensive "estate plan." He denied that any agreements accompanied the execution of the deeds respecting the beneficial interest and asserted that these actions were brought solely as a result of difficulties which arose in 1981 with regard to the management of the lands and his subsequent efforts to have a conservator appointed to manage the affairs of appellees.

Appellee owned several tracts of land which she had acquired by inheritance and which had been in her family for several generations. Appellant testified that he was appellee's only child and that for many years his mother had insisted that they develop an "estate plan" for her. As part of that plan she executed the deeds in 1965, one to a tract referred to as the "Hartley Farm" which she owned in fee and the other to an undivided one-half interest in what was known as the "Fairview Farm" which she owned as a tenant in common with appellant. These interests in Fairview had been acquired from appellee's sister shortly before her death in 1954. The Fairview Farm had been in appellee's family for several generations. Appellant testified that these two deeds were intended to be recorded promptly and he denied that the execution of these deeds had connection with any transaction other than the estate plan.

Appellant testified that in 1967 appellee executed to him the two additional deeds, directing these deeds not to be recorded immediately because "she wanted something to hold on to." He stated, "Mother wanted to hold on to these things indefinitely, and before I accepted this we discussed this thoroughly. I told her that she could not transfer this land as a death bed transfer. I said that the deed must be recorded and transferred in my name." He stated that he made it quite clear that he must exercise both ownership and management for a period of five years before her death or it would be considered as a transfer in contemplation of death by the Internal Revenue Service. He used actuarial tables of life expectancies in determining that the deeds should be recorded in 1977. He testified that there was, however, an agreement that the income from the land would be used in the "best interest of the entire family" and that it would be left entirely in his discretion as to where the best interest of the family lay and who was to receive the income and in what proportion. He testified that he was the only son and was helping the family do the estate planning, "and they trusted me and had confidence in me."

The appellee testified that in 1965 the appellant was attempting to purchase what was known as the "Watkins Farm" which was adjacent to the Hartley Farm, but he was unable to obtain the required loan. She stated that she deeded the Hartley Farm and her interest in the Fairview Farm to him for additional collateral for the loan. She stated that she wanted him to purchase the Watkins Farm and encouraged him to do so. She deeded the lands to him merely as collateral for the Watkins loan on his promise that she could continue to manage and control her property and to receive the rents and profits from it for as long as she lived. She stated that all of these properties had originally been acquired by her great-grandfather. She stated that it was the custom in her family to hand land down through the bloodline and that "it was a birthright." There was evidence that for this reason she did not wish her husband to acquire an interest in the properties at her death which he might convey to strangers. She stated that she executed the 1967 deeds for that purpose. She and the appellant had orally agreed that she retain the control of and the beneficial interest in the property for her lifetime and that the deeds were not to be recorded until after her death. She denied that there was any estate planning for tax purposes involved in these transfers and that she had rejected all planning proposals of the appellant. She testified that she did retain the management and control of the properties and the incomes from them until a few years before this action was commenced. At that time she had begun to have arguments with appellant about the management and control of her property and her right to the proceeds.

The testimony of appellee was corroborated to a large extent by her grandson Charles Rische Beeson who stated that he had always been close to his grandparents and had had "over a hundred conversations with her concerning the deeds." He stated that the deeds to the Hartley and Fairview Farms were to collateralize the loan to his father to buy the Watkins place. He stated that the 1967 deeds were executed because his grandmother feared that something might happen to her before her husband's death and that the ownership "as far as bloodline was concerned would be jeopardized." He stated that she wanted to make sure that the title would remain in her bloodline. He testified that there were attempts to work out an estate plan by forming a family corporation and issuing stock in accordance with the value of the lands contributed. This proposal was submitted by the appellant but was refused by appellee and her husband. He testified further that you could not form a corporation without deeding real estate to it and they could never get appellee to do so because she wanted to "dictate all of the policies of the corporation."

The chancellor found that the 1965 deeds were executed solely in order to provide appellant additional security to obtain the financing to purchase other lands and upon agreement that appellee retain the beneficial interest. With regard to the 1967 deeds he found that they were executed pursuant to an agreement and understanding that they were not to be recorded during the lifetime of the grantor and that she would retain exclusive right to manage and control the lands and the right to receive all income from them during her lifetime. The chancellor also specifically found that at all material times the appellant stood in a confidential relationship with his parents and that the deeds, which were made without consideration, were made pursuant to those specific agreements, undertakings and promises.

Although we review chancery cases de novo on the record we will not reverse the findings and conclusions of the chancellor unless they are clearly erroneous, giving due weight to the superior position of the chancellor to judge the credibility of the witnesses. Rule 52(a); Andres v. Andres, 1 Ark.App. 75, 613 S.W.2d 404 (1981). We cannot conclude that these findings of the chancellor with regard to the constructive trust are clearly erroneous.

It is well settled that a constructive trust will arise and be imposed in favor of persons entitled to the beneficial interest against one who secures legal title by an intentional false oral promise to hold title for specific purposes and having thus obtained title claims the property his own, or when that promise is given by a grantee who stands in a confidential relationship to the grantor, upon refusal to...

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  • Delta Pride Catfish, Inc. v. Marine Midland Bus. Loans, Inc., LR-C-89-889.
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    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Arkansas
    • June 19, 1991
    ...Bramlett v. Selman, 268 Ark. 457, 597 S.W.2d 80 (1980), Bottenfield v. Wood, 264 Ark. 505, 573 S.W.2d 307 (1978), Beeson v. Beeson, 11 Ark.App. 79, 667 S.W.2d 368 (1984), then at least the same degree of proof is necessary for Court to impose a constructive trust based upon a fiduciary rela......
  • Brown v. Imboden, CA
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • June 7, 1989
    ...this issue was ever pled, raised, or argued in the trial court, and it cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. Beeson v. Beeson, 11 Ark.App. 79, 667 S.W.2d 368 (1984); Sheffield v. Strickland, 268 Ark. 1148, 599 S.W.2d 422 Secondly, any similarity between the material facts in Fox an......
  • Jaramillo v. Adams, CA 07-59.
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • November 14, 2007
    ...fault is an affirmative defense, the burden is on the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was at fault); Beeson v. Beeson, 11 Ark.App. 79, 667 S.W.2d 368 (1984) (stating that when the statute of limitations has been pled, the one relying upon it has the burden of proving those facts givin......
  • Moore v. Moore, CA
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • June 10, 1987
    ...of limitations has been pled, the party relying on it has the burden of proving those facts giving rise to it. Beeson v. Beeson, 11 Ark.App. 79, 667 S.W.2d 368 (1984). The appellees argue on appeal that the trust was repudiated in 1976 when Doyle Moore conveyed the land to the Doyle Moore I......
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