- Ag Docket
In this case, a married couple executed a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed naming the husband's daughter and her husband as beneficiaries of a farm that the husband owned. The farm was owned solely by the husband even though the TOD recited that both the husband and wife owned the farm. An initial draft of the TOD gave the wife a life estate in the farm upon the husband's death when the TOD would become effective to transfer the farm. A subsequent version (the version at issue) eliminated the life estate in favor or an oral understanding that the wife could live on the farm as long as she desired. The husband died the sole owner of the farm, and the surviving wife claimed that the TOD was ineffective because it stated that both the husband and wife owned the farm. The wife also attempted to revoke the TOD after her husband's death. The trial court held that the wife had no marital interest in the farm and that the TOD was effective to transfer the farm to the husband's daughter and her husband. The trial court also determined that the TOD designation was not the result of undue influence and that reformation to grant the wife a life estate was not warranted by the evidence. The trial court denied reconsideration. On appeal, the court affirmed. It was sufficient that the actual owner of the farm was named as an owner of the farm and the TOD was not invalidated simply because it also said that other people had an ownership interest in the farm. The court also determined that the evidence did not support an undue influence claim, and that the wife had no ability to revoke the TOD. The evidence also did not support a reformation of the TOD designation. Sarow v. Vike, No. 2014AP1476, 2015 Wisc. App. LEXIS 427 (Wisc. Ct. App. Jun. 11, 2015).
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