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SCURRY ET AL. v. EDWARDS ET AL.

November 20, 1957

D. L. SCURRY, WADE H. GREENE, JR., MARVIN L. BAGWELL, MARION J. YOUNG AND LENA P. YOUNG, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
JAMES M. EDWARDS AND WILLIAM M. EDWARDS, AS COMMITTEE FOR JAMES M. EDWARDS, DEFENDANTS, OF WHOM JAMES M. EDWARDS, BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, IS APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Legge, Justice.


   November 20, 1957.
This is an action to quiet title to real estate. In controversy is a deed executed in 1946 by the committee of a person non compos mentis, purporting to convey his fractional interest in the property; and from a decree adjudging this deed valid the incompetent, by his guardian ad litem, now appeals.

Vance Edwards died intestate on February 8, 1946, leaving as his heirs his brothers William S., Robert J., and James M. Edwards, and eight nieces and nephews, children of a predeceased brother, F.M. Edwards. Decedant's brother James M. Edwards, now seventy-nine years of age and unmarried, has been non compos mentis all of his life.

At the time of his death Vance Edwards owned a tract of some seven hundred acres in Greenville County, most of it lying on the southeastern side of U.S. Highway 29. A small portion of it lay on the northwestern side of said highway and adjoined property of his brother Robert J. Edwards. By deed dated September 24, 1946, recorded in Greenville County in Deed Book 307, at page 33, the heirs of Vance Edwards other than Robert J. Edwards conveyed to the said Robert J. Edwards, for $1,400.00:

1. A small triangular lot on the northwestern side of Highway 29 at its intersection with Artillery Road and adjoining the property of Robert J. Edwards upon which he had built his home; and

2. A triangular lot containing one and one-half acres at the intersection of Highway 29 and Lee Road, almost directly across the highway from the home of Robert J. Edwards.

We shall refer to the lot first mentioned as the Artillery Road lot, and to the other as the Lee Road lot.

At the time of this conveyance Robert J. Edwards was the duly appointed committee of his brother James M. Edwards, and he joined in the conveyance in that capacity.

The Lee Road lot was conveyed by Robert J. Edwards to the plaintiffs D.L. Scurry, Wade H. Greene, Jr., and Marvin L. Bagwell by two deeds, one dated August 29, 1952, conveying part, and the other dated August 27, 1953, conveying the rest of it. Thereafter this lot appears to have been divided into two lots, of which Lot No. 1, in that portion of the triangle immediately adjacent to the intersection of Highway 29 and Lee Road, was conveyed to the plaintiffs Marion J. Young and Lena P. Young by deed dated October 21, 1955. The plaintiffs Scurry, Greene and Bagwell retained ownership of the rest of the triangle, now known as Lot No. 2.

A prospective purchaser of Lot No. 2 having questioned the title for the reason that no order of court could be found authorizing Robert J. Edwards as committee of James M. Edwards to join in the execution of the deed of September 24, 1946, this action resulted.

The factual background appears from the following testimony of James L. Love, Esq., a prominent member of the Greenville bar:

Mr. Love has represented the Edwards family since about 1925, handling all sales of property made by B. Perry Edwards (an older brother of Vance, Robert and James), who died prior to 1944, all sales made by Vance Edwards, and all sales of the property of James M. Edwards. B. Perry Edwards had been committee of James M. Edwards; upon his death Vance and Robert were appointed in his stead; and after the death of Vance in February, 1946, Robert continued to act as such committee until his death (which, we infer, occurred subsequent to August 27, 1953).

In the division of the lands of B. Perry Edwards, Vance had received a tract lying for the most part southeast, and Robert a tract lying northwest, of what is now Highway 29. In 1944 Vance and Robert orally agreed, in Mr. Love's office, that they would exchange segments of certain lots on Artillery Road, Vance conveying to Robert two parcels of Lots 14 and 15, and Robert conveying to Vance the major portion of Lot 16; and that, as part of the same transaction, Vance would sell to Robert for $1,400.00 the two triangular lots hereinbefore referred to as the Artillery Road lot and the Lee Road lot. By the cross-conveyance of the portions of Lots 14, 15 and 16, Vance and Robert would each acquire ownership of whole lots as shown on the existing plat of the property. The conveyance of the Artillery Road lot to Robert was necessary to provide an entrance from the highway to his home, which was then under construction. The conveyance to him of the Lee Road lot was desired to afford protection against the possibility that objectionable business establishments might be erected directly in front of his new home.

Pursuant to this agreement, Mr. Love prepared two deeds, both of which were executed under date March 9, 1944, to wit:

(1) Deed of Vance Edwards to Robert J. Edwards, conveying two parcels or segments of Lots 14 and 15; and

(2) Deed of Robert J. Edwards to Vance Edwards, conveying the major portion of Lot 16.

At this time the two triangular lots had not been "surveyed off" and it was not until some time later that Mr. Love, at the instruction of Mr. Vance Edwards, and "in order to complete the oral agreement", prepared the deed from Vance to Robert covering these lots. However, because of the illness of Mr. Vance Edwards, from which he did not recover, this deed was never signed by him. After his death, Mr. Love having prepared a deed for execution by the other heirs of Vance Edwards conveying the two triangular lots to Robert, and having explained to some of them the agreement between Vance and Robert, they all executed the deed now in controversy, Robert, as before stated, executing it as committee of James M. Edwards. About the same time, Mr. Love also prepared and the heirs of ...


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