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In re Successions of Thibodeaux

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 5, 2014

SUCCESSIONS OF HARRY CYPRIEN THIBODEAUX, SR. AND IRENE DUPLANTIS THIBODEAUX, HUSBAND AND WIFE

APPEAL FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ST. MARTIN, DOCKET NO. 14696. HONORABLE PAUL J. DEMAHY, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Michael J. Daspit, Daspit Law Office, A Professional Law Corporation, St. Martinville, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR APPELLANTS: Gene Thibodeaux and Tina Thibodeaux.

Stan Gauthier, II, A Law Corporation, Michael G. Johnston, II, Lafayette, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR SUCCESSION REPRESENTATIVE/APPELLEE: Harry Cyprien Thibodeaux, Jr.

William B. Bull, Lafayette, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR SUCCESSION OF GLENN W. THIBODEAUX.

Court composed of J. David Painter, James T. Genovese, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

OPINION

Page 634

[14-487 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] GENOVESE, Judge.

Appellants, Gene Thibodeaux and Tina Thibodeaux (Gene and Tina), husband and wife, appeal a trial court judgment denying their claims against the successions of Gene's parents, Harry Cyprien Thibodeaux, Sr. (Harry, Sr.) and Irene Duplantis Thibodeaux (Irene). For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Harry, Sr. and Irene, husband and wife,[1] owned immovable property located in St. Martin Parish, which is at issue in this matter. Harry, Sr. died testate[2] November 25, 1978. Irene died testate March 11, 2000. In December 2009, Harry Cyprien Thibodeaux, Jr. (Harry, Jr.) instituted estate proceedings to open the successions of his parents, Harry, Sr. and Irene. Harry, Jr. was ultimately appointed administrator of both the succession of Harry, Sr. and the succession of Irene.

The record reflects that on April 5, 1977, Harry, Sr. executed an olographic testament wherein he bequeathed to Irene " all [his] earthly possessions and [his] share in the property which [they] both possess[,] to use according to law[,] until [Irene's] death[,] to manage and use the revenue thereof[,] as long as she wants[.]" On December 1, 1978, all nine of the children of Harry, Sr. and Irene executed a Power of Attorney granting to Irene the authority to sell " movable property" belonging to the estate of Harry, Sr. Also in evidence is the Last Will and Testament of Irene, in statutory form, executed on January 13, 1994, wherein she [14-487 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] bequeathed to her nine children equally " all of the remaining property of which [she] die[d] possessed."

In April 2011, Gene and Tina filed a claim against the successions, asserting ownership of a wood-frame house and six acres of land[3] on which it is situated. The house and land were the community property of Harry, Sr. and Irene. Gene and Tina alleged that they purchased the house from Irene for $16,000.00, evidenced by Act of Credit Sale dated December 31, 1980.[4] Gene and Tina further claimed that, concurrent with their purchase of the house in 1980, they took possession of the land on which the house is situated; [5] consequently, they argue that they own the land pursuant to thirty-years acquisitive prescription.[6]

A bench trial was held on April 12, 2012, after which the trial court ruled, in pertinent part, as follows:

[Louisiana] Civil Code Article 464[] defines a building as [immovable] property, so the law regarding acquisitive prescription of an [immovable] property applies to this home and, of course, to the land it sits on.

Page 635

In December of 1980, Mrs. [Irene] Thibodeaux signed a document purporting to sell the entire wood frame home to Gene Thibodeaux. The validity of that document can be questioned, but there's no question that Gene Thibodeaux intended to possess that property as owner, as this document is a document translative of ownership. So at that point, beginning on December 31st, 1980, Mr. Gene Thibodeaux was a good faith possessor of what Mrs. Irene Thibodeaux sold him. Mrs. Irene Thibodeaux owned a one-half interest[] in the house, which she had every right to sell to Gene Thibodeaux. She had a Power of Attorney signed by all of her children giving her certain rights over property that they owned which [14-487 La.App. 3 Cir. 3] they inherited from their father. That Power of Attorney did not include the authority to sell [immovable] property, so she had no authority to sell the children's half of the building to Gene Thibodeaux. ...

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