STEPHENS V. COLLEY
ALABAMA SUPREME COURT, JUSTICE STEWART
AUGUST 15, 2014
Stephens appeals a circuit court order granting an injunction to Colley. Franklin is a nephew of Sara Dees, the decedent, and Plaintiff, Hazel Colley. Dees health was failing and she was in a rehabilitation center. Stephens removed Dees from the rehab center and took her home to care for her. Colley stated that Stephens restricted access to Dees and did not allow her to speak to friends or family outside of his presence. Stephens then did the following:
Executed a new Durable Power of Attorney
A new will making him the sole heir of Dees estate and removing Colley as executor
Added himself to Dees bank accounts
Upon Dees death, Stephens took control of her affairs.
Colley asked the Probate Court and Circuit Courts to set aside the power of attorney and will executed by Stephens because the documents were based on fraud, misrepresentation and undue influence. Colley’s request for relief was granted.
In Stephens appeal, he argues that the Order for a preliminary injunction did not comply with Rule 65. This Court ruled in Stephens’ favor since the Order failed to state the reasons for entering the preliminary injunction. The case was remanded to the lower courts for further proceedings.
Make sure your attorney always checks an Order, whether drafted by an attorney and presented to the Court, or, drafted by a Judge to ensure it complies with all rules, regulations, and the intent of the Court. This will avoid further issues in the future.
In addition, it is a good idea to ensure that more than one family member knows of your wishes and how you intend for your affairs to be handled and by whom, in the event of your death. This will assist with issues such as those brought forth by Colley and help save your money the hurt and pain of a family at odds.
Get a will, durable power of attorney and advanced healthcare directive as soon as possible. Make sure that all proper formalities are carried out. Make sure others know of your will and have a copy, clearly marked for informational purposes only.