Appealed from the Second Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Jackson, Louisiana Trial Court No. 7111 Honorable
Jenifer Ward Clason, Judge.
HEATH HARRAWAY JOSHUA L. CRITSELOU COUNSEL FOR APPELLANTS,
ROSE DELANEY (KARI) AND MARK DELANEY
OFFICES OF CHRIS L. BOWMAN BY: CHRIS L. BOWMAN CHRISTY JOYNOR
WALKER COLBY L. BOWMAN COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE, SAVANNAH ANN
PITMAN, GARRETT, and STEPHENS, JJ.
Delaney (Kari) and Mark Delaney appeal a judgment by the
Second Judicial District Court, Parish of Jackson, State of
Louisiana, granting the motion for summary judgment filed by
Savannah Norman and nullifying the will of Lee Mark Hanna,
Jr. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial
court's judgment and remand the matter for further
Delaney (Kari) and Mark Delaney are the stepchildren of the
decedent, Lee Mark Hanna, Jr., who died in November 2012.
Rose and Mark are the children of Hanna's ex-wife, Betty
Maxine Hanna. Savannah Norman is the granddaughter of Lee
Mark Hanna, Jr.-the child of Betty Hanna Norman, who was the
daughter of Lee Mark Hanna, Jr., and predeceased him.
Hanna had a testament dated September 19, 2012, naming
Savannah his sole legatee. However, on October 18, 2012,
Hanna signed another testament in the presence of two
witnesses and a notary/attorney (the "Will") in
which he made the following legacies: to Savannah, a right of
use to personally live on a 63-acre tract of immovable
property, subject to certain conditions; to Rose and Mark,
all of the immovable property which Hanna possessed at death;
and, finally, to the Savannah Ann Norman Testamentary Trust,
the residuary estate, naming Savannah as the income and
principal beneficiary of the trust. Additionally, Rose was
named independent administratrix.
March 4, 2013, Savannah filed a petition to set aside will
and for appointment of provisional administrator. In that
petition, Savannah alleged Hanna lacked the capacity to
execute the Will and, further, he was unduly influenced by
his ex-wife, Betty, and her daughter, Rose. Based on that
initial filing before the trial court, Savannah was appointed
provisional administratrix in the succession.
29, 2014, Rose and Mark filed their petition to remove
provisional administratrix, citing the Will wherein Rose was
named independent executrix. Following various delays in
discovery, trial was set for late February 2018.
on February 16, 2018, Savannah filed a first supplemental and
amended petition to her initial filing, where she
additionally claimed the Will should be nullified due to a
defect in its attestation clause. The trial court granted her
leave to supplement and amend her petition, upsetting the
February trial date. On March 27, 2018, Savannah filed her
motion for summary judgment, where she argued the attestation
clause in the Will was flawed.
on the recent opinion by the Louisiana Supreme Court,
Successions of Toney, 2016-1534 (La. 5/3/2017), 226
So.3d 397, the trial court found the Will's attestation
clause was deficient. Specifically, it determined "[t]he
attestation clause requirement that the notary and witnesses
declare that the testator signed the will at its end and on
each of its separate pages, is not stated in this will's
attestation clause." Further, the trial court
characterized the attestation clause as
"materially" deviating from the ...