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04/10/81 EGBERT ESTATE UNSELD v. BEDENBAUGH

April 10, 1981

IN RE EGBERT ESTATE; UNSELD
v.
BEDENBAUGH



Beasley, P.j., and R. B. Burns and C. J. Hoehn,* JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Charles Ernest Egbert died intestate on June 26, 1978, at the age of 91. On October 5, 1978, following uncontested testimony two days earlier, Beatrice Bedenbaugh and Ernest D. Egbert were determined to be first cousins of the decedent and his sole heirs-at-law. On October 20, 1978, Renee Alice Unseld, hereinafter plaintiff, filed a petition claiming to be the niece and sole heir-at-law of the deceased and asking that all prior proceedings in the estate be quashed and held for nought on the grounds that they were instituted and carried forward by persons with no pecuniary interest in the estate. After a hearing on the petition held on November 20, 1978, the probate court held that plaintiff had failed to convince the court by a preponderance of the evidence that she was, in fact, decedent's niece. Following an unsuccessful appeal to the circuit court, plaintiff appeals to this Court by leave granted.

Plaintiff first contends that the probate court erred in denying her request to admit into evidence two proposed exhibits to prove her relationship to decedent. The first proposed exhibit, a memorial card, was voluntarily withdrawn by plaintiff's counsel and, therefore, the question of its admissibility is not properly before this Court.

The second proposed exhibit was a picture postcard. On the front of the postcard is a photograph of a young girl, who plaintiff alleges is herself. On the back is the alleged handwriting of the deceased stating: "Ren Robinson, My Sister, Daughter, Age About 3, /s/ Ernest Egbert ".

When plaintiff sought to admit the exhibit, defendants objected that it was not admissible because it was hearsay. After plaintiff's counsel could not cite an exception to the hearsay rule, the trial Judge ruled that the exhibit was inadmissible.

This photograph is admissible under MRE 804(b)(4) which provides:

"(b) Hearsay exceptions. The following are not excluded by the hearsay rule if the declarant is unavailable as a witness:

"(4) Statement of personal or family history. (A) A statement concerning the declarant's own birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, legitimacy, relationship by blood, adoption, or marriage, ancestry, or other similar fact of personal or family history, even though declarant had no means of acquiring personal knowledge of the matter stated; or (B) a statement concerning the foregoing matters, and death also, of another person, if the declarant was related to the other by blood, adoption, or marriage or ...


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