In the Matter of the Estate of William D. Paradeses
Georganna Paradeses, Eleanor Glisson (Faye) a/k/a Faye Greeson, Pam Paradeses, Stephanie Starr, Robin Pace, Mary Paradeses and Jim Paradeses, Respondents, Georganna Paradeses, as Personal Representative of the Estate of William D. Paradeses, Petitioner, of whom Georganna Paradeses, individually, Pam Paradeses, Stephanie Starr, Robin Pace, Mary Paradeses and Jim Paradeses, are Appellants, and Eleanor Glisson (Faye), a/k/a Faye Greeson, is Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-001960
March 4, 2019
From Richland County Amy W. McCulloch, Probate Court Judge
T. Silvernail, of Law Office of Adam T. Silvernail, of
Columbia, for Appellants.
S. Murray, of Turner Padget Graham & Laney, PA, and
Charles C. Stebbins, III, both of Augusta, Georgia, for
Paradeses, Pam Paradeses, Stephanie Starr, Robin Pace, Mary
Paradeses, and Jim Paradeses appeal the probate court's
determination that a deletion to the last will and testament
of William D. Paradeses was not properly executed, and thus,
invalid. We affirm.
D. Paradeses (Testator) died testate on January 9, 2016.
Testator's last will and testament (the Will), dated
October 29, 2008, was discovered in his home and submitted to
the probate court in Richland County on February 11, 2016.
The Will contained a strikeout over the entirety of Item
IV(2), which originally provided for a $50, 000 bequest to
Faye Greeson (Respondent). Next to the deletion was
handwritten language stating, "Omit #2 W.D.
Paradeses." The Will also contained a handwritten
addition to Item IV(1), which placed a condition on
Testator's bequest of his interest in the Saluda
Investment Company. The beneficiaries affected by this
addition agreed to carry out the provisions of the addition,
which did not affect the bequest to Respondent. It is
undisputed there were no witnesses to either of the changes.
February 18, 2016, Georganna Paradeses, as personal
representative of Testator's estate, filed a petition for
declaratory judgment seeking an order from the probate court
declaring the rights of the parties under the terms of the
Will and the effect of the markings thereon. Respondent filed
an answer denying the deletion was made by Testator and
asserting the deletion failed due to improper attestation.
Georganna Paradeses, Pam Paradeses Greeson, Stephanie Starr,
Robin Pace, and Mary Paradeses (Appellants) answered and
admitted Testator made the changes with the intent to change
hearing was held before the probate court on July 27, 2016.
At the hearing, Respondent argued there was insufficient
proof Testator struck Item IV(2) from the Will, and, even
assuming he did, the deletion was ineffective because it was
an attempt to create a codicil without the required
signatures of two witnesses. Appellants argued section
62-2-506 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018) provides for
the revocation of any part of a will by, among other things,
cancellation. Citing several cases from other jurisdictions,
Appellants argued the probate court should compel the
acceptance of Testator's revocation of the $50, 000
bequest by his cancellation of the same by striking it out of
the Will, which was in his possession at the time of his
August 2016 order, the probate court found the addition and
deletion to the Will were made after the Will was properly
executed in the presence of two witnesses. The court
determined the changes were consistent with an attempted
codicil and required proper execution. The court held there
were no known witnesses to the changes, and thus, they were
not properly executed. Accordingly, the court found
Respondent's right to the bequest of $50, 000 remained
valid. The probate court subsequently denied Appellants'
motion to alter or amend. In its order, the court noted it
analyzed the addition and the deletion together in
determining the changes were an attempted codicil and not
merely a revocation of part of the Will. This appeal
standard of review applicable to cases originating in the
probate court is controlled by whether the underlying cause
of action is at law or in equity. Howard v. Mutz,
315 S.C. 356, 361-62, 434 S.E.2d 254, 257-58 (1993). This is
an action at law. NationsBank of S.C. v. Greenwood,
321 S.C. 386, 392, 468 S.E.2d 658, 662 (Ct. App. 1996)
(holding an action to construe a will is an action at law).
If a proceeding in the probate court is in the nature of an
action at law, review by this court extends merely to the
correction of legal errors. Townes Assocs. Ltd. v. City
of Greenville, 266 S.C. 81, 86, 221 S.E.2d 773, 775
(1976), abrogated on other grounds by, In re Estate of
Kay, 423 S.C. 476, 816 S.E.2d 542 (2018).