Reeves v. WebbAnnotate this Case
Joseph Schmidt executed the will at issue in this case on July 20, 2010. Schmidt was a disabled Marine Corps veteran who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia with delusions since the early 1970's; he also had vision and hearing difficulties. He was treated as a disabled veteran and received disability benefits from the Veterans Administration (“VA”) until his death in 2013. He was appointed a VA guardian and conservator in 1974. Dale Groenenboom was appointed as successor guardian of Schmidt’s person and property in 1976, and served in such capacity until Schmidt’s death. In 1997, Schmidt entered into the personal care home owned and operated by Charles Reeves. Jr. and his wife, Jerry, and he resided there the remainder of his life. The Reeveses were compensated monthly for their services. The Will named Groenenboom as executor and the Reeveses and Groenenboom as the beneficiaries. In the Will, Judith Webb, Schmidt’s twin sister and sole named heir at law, was expressly excluded from inheriting from Schmidt’s estate. Groenenboom filed the petition to probate the Will. Webb filed a motion to deny the Petition and the accompanying Settlement, as well as an objection and caveat to them, contending that Groenenboom and the Reeveses breached their fiduciary duties owed to Schmidt; that they committed fraud against Schmidt and the probate court; that Schmidt was unduly influenced by them within the meaning of OCGA 53-4-12; and that Schmidt lacked testamentary capacity at the time the Will was executed. The probate court entered a final order dismissing the Petition, finding that Groenenboom did not “make out a prima facie case” to admit the Will to probate in that Groenenboom “failed to produce the subscribing witness [to the Will] for examination at the hearing despite the fact that they were neither shown to be deceased or inaccessible.” After review, the Supreme Court found the Will had a self-proving affidavit, so it could have been admitted into probate without testimony of the subscribing witnesses or other proof for the purpose of showing that the formalities of execution were met. The probate court was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.