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In Re Estate of Mcwain

DECEMBER 22, 1966.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN A. MCWAIN, DECEASED. ARTHUR HUDDLESTON, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN A. MCWAIN, DECEASED, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT-APPELLEE,

v.

FLORENCE HOGGATT, RESPONDENT-CLAIMANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macoupin County; the Hon. FRANCIS J. BERGEN, Judge, presiding. Judgment denying claim against estate for services performed for decedent affirmed in part and reversed in part.

TRAPP, J.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Macoupin County, Illinois, in probate, denying a claim for services of Florence Hoggatt against the estate of John A. McWain, and ordering the delivery of certain assets held by Florence Hoggatt to the administrator upon a citation pursuant to petition of the administrator.

The claim for services and the citation to discover and procure assets were heard together.

A review of the evidence is necessary.

The claimant, Florence Hoggatt, is a married woman, who, at all relevant times, lived with her husband in her own home. For about 10 years prior to the fall of 1960 she lived at Bethalto and the decedent, John A. McWain, lived at Carlinville, Illinois. Claimant was a second cousin of the decedent, and she, her husband and family of four children were always quite friendly with the decedent and referred to him as "Uncle John."

During the ten-year period prior to 1960 the Hoggatts visited Mr. McWain at least twice a month, bought groceries and supplies for him and cared for him in other ways such as doing his laundry and taking him to the doctor. Mr. McWain had arthritis in his feet and had great difficulty in walking. On six occasions the Hoggatts took Mr. McWain on a vacation.

By October of 1960, Mr. McWain, who was then 82 years of age, was unable to take care of himself. The Hoggatts moved from Bethalto to Worden. At this time Mr. McWain requested Florence Hoggatt to get him a place to live and after his death it would be hers. He signed a blank check and Mrs. Hoggatt purchased a trailer for $1,133. She and her husband cleaned the trailer, moved it to their property immediately adjoining their home and connected it to the utilities.

From the time the trailer was located on the Hoggatt premises, and for fourteen months until he went to the hospital and later the nursing home, Florence Hoggatt took care of all of Mr. McWain's needs including cleaning the trailer, doing his laundry, taking him to the doctor, purchasing his groceries, running his errands, taking him food and caring for him. He was unable to walk to the store.

The trailer was purchased in the name of John McWain, although he did not direct that it be purchased in his name. In December of 1961, Mr. McWain wrote a note to the post office at Carlinville directing the payment of $1,500 postal savings to Mrs. Hoggatt. On December 26, 1961, he wrote a note to the Carlinville National Bank as follows:

"Please give Mrs. Hoggatt the remainder of my checking account.

JOHN A. McWAIN."

There was then $915 in the checking account. He delivered $2,000 in government bonds to Mrs. Hoggatt for cashing. The check for the bonds did not arrive until after his death, and Mrs. Hoggatt delivered this check to the administrator.

Florence Hoggatt claims the trailer, the proceeds of the postal savings, the $915 balance of the checking account and $2,900 for services. All of her claims were denied by the trial court.

Since Mrs. Hoggatt took neither the title to, nor possession of the trailer, and since Mr. McWain occupied the trailer exclusively, it would appear that there was insufficient evidence of delivery of this property as a gift in the absence of any writing or corroborating testimony. In Northern Trust Co. v. Swartz, 309 Ill. 586, 141 N.E. 433, the donee was in possession of the bonds, ...


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