The opinion of the court was delivered by
This is an appeal from the trial court's judgment finding that
the decedent, Carl Edward Raney, lacked testamentary capacity at
the time of the execution of his will because of an insane
delusion. The appellants, who are decedent's sisters and the
beneficiaries of the will, also appeal the trial court's denial
of a new trial. The appellees are Virginia Cauthorn, Carl A.
Raney, and Wayne L. Raney, children and only heirs of the
The facts are extensive and, because the appellants challenge
the sufficiency of the evidence, the facts need to be stated in
some detail. The decedent, Carl Edward Raney (a/k/a Tag),
executed his last will and testament on October 27, 1987, and
died on January 17, 1989. He married Rosa Lee Raney in May 1947;
they were divorced in October 1981.
By all accounts, decedent was a difficult person to live with.
His former wife, Lee, testified that he controlled everything and
everybody with his anger. If the family did what he wanted, then
it was not bad, and they all got along fairly well. Decedent had
always drunk alcohol, but after his father died in 1970, his
drinking became a daily occurrence. Decedent was close to his
father, and, after his father's death, decedent's mother and
sisters sued him over division of the estate. This litigation
"wounded" decedent severely, causing stress that he did not
handle well. The fear, anger, and hurt decedent felt after the
loss of his father and the litigation involving his father's
estate were apparently transferred or displaced from his mother
and sisters to his wife and children.
Decedent's daughter, Virginia, lived abroad from January 1975
until May 1985. At one point, her father called her frequently
and was angry because she had loaned her mother money when her
mother and father had divorced.
Decedent's son, Wayne, attended two years of college in Colby
and one year at Kansas State University and returned home in 1975
to drive a tractor for his father. Wayne was involved with a girl
and planned to marry her, but his father would not let him leave
the farm, and the relationship ended. Decedent would hide keys
and let air out of tires to keep Wayne from leaving. Wayne
testified that after Lee found and gave him the keys to the 1966
Ford that summer in 1975, "I started it up and I left and I
didn't look back."
Decedent's son, Carl, farmed for his father until 1976. After
his father fired him, Carl began to farm for his father's former
landlord, which angered decedent. Through a loan, Carl began to
purchase equipment and, in 1977, moved into an old farmhouse that
he leased from his father. Carl testified that, in 1978 and
1979, he may have done some custom work for his father; in 1980,
Carl farmed his parents' property at the request of the court in
their divorce action. After the divorce, his mother, who received
six quarters of land in the property settlement, as well as
equipment, leased her land to Carl to farm. He bought her farm
Carl attempted to help his father manage his finances over the
next few years, but, on May 24, 1985, Carl wrote a letter stating
that he wanted no more responsibility concerning his father's
affairs. Carl sent a copy of the letter to Gene Shore, who was
the husband of decedent's sister, Janet Shore, and to decedent's
mother. One item that Carl did not want to deal with was the sale
of decedent's house in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Decedent had
given Carl a power of attorney to handle this sale but would not
consider offers that Carl presented. In addition, one of
decedent's five quarter sections of land in Stanton County was
being foreclosed. Carl anticipated that the proceeds from the
sale of decedent's house in Colorado Springs would be used to
redeem the property being foreclosed in Stanton County.
Gene Shore testified that the house in Colorado Springs was
sold for more than the first offer, with decedent receiving
almost $50,000. Decedent carried the check for these proceeds in
his pocket for several days until Shore took him to the bank and
had him deposit it. In mid-1985, the land being foreclosed in
Stanton County was sold at a public auction. At decedent's
request, Shore bought the land on his behalf. Later, decedent
changed his mind about redeeming the land from Shore, who feared
that he would be stuck with property that he did not want. In the
end, the property was redeemed by the conservatorship.
Some time between Carl's May 24, 1985, letter to his father and
the filing of the conservatorship on August 27, 1985, decedent's
children met at their mother's house and decided to seek a
conservatorship for their father. The decision occurred soon
after decedent appeared at Carl's farm with a gun. Carl was not
present at the time, but decedent talked to Carl's employee and
threatened to harm Carl. Decedent's other son, Wayne, was present
but did not talk with his father.
When decedent learned of the conservatorship, he transferred
$46,000 from the proceeds of the sale of the Colorado Springs
house to his mother, Edith Raney. The conservatorship sued to
retrieve the $46,000. After using these proceeds to redeem the
Kansas property, the conservatorship obtained a $160,000 loan
secured by a mortgage on all the Kansas property. Prior to this,
three of the five quarter sections had not been encumbered.
For financial reasons, Carl organized a corporation called
Raney Farms, Inc., (Raney Farms) to handle his farm work. Raney
Farms rented decedent's land from the conservatorship. At this
time, Lee owned 100% of the shares of Raney Farms. Carl did not
tell his father that the land in the conservatorship had been
rented to Lee's corporation, and the record does not indicate how
decedent learned of this arrangement. Carl planted the crops and
was paid by the conservatorship. The next year, the land was
placed in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and the
conservatorship received the CRP payments.
Decedent received repeated counseling and treatment for his
alcoholism and anger. He was an inpatient at Prairie View from
September 1985 to January 1986, where he became a patient of Dr.
Bellows-Blakely, a psychiatrist. When Dr. Bellows-Blakely first
saw decedent, decedent was debilitated. According to Dr.
Bellows-Blakely, decedent had a complex character: He had a
dependent personality and needed to be taken care of but, at the
same time, resented his dependency. Although decedent was
suspicious of anyone connected with his assets, Dr.
Bellows-Blakely did not believe that decedent was psychotic. He
described psychotic behavior as a thought disorder in which
someone loses contact with reality and holds a view that would be
contrary to that of a reasonable person. In Dr. Bellows-Blakely's
opinion, decedent had a mixed personality disorder with
borderline, dependent, passive-aggressive, and paranoid traits;
had chronic alcoholism that he refused to acknowledge; and had
organic personality syndrome. In September 1987, the doctor
concluded that decedent had the mental capacity to manage his own
affairs if he would not distort the world. The doctor testified
decedent was bent on revenge or a vendetta with his family and
could not get off that line of thought long enough to put his
life together. The doctor viewed decedent's wish for revenge as a
psychological defense mechanism protecting him from the awful
reality of the wreckage of his life, in which he had
After four months as an inpatient at Prairie View, decedent did
not want to participate in its outpatient program and was
transferred to Larned State Hospital. Later, he participated in
the Omni Program at Dodge City Mental Health Center. His social
worker, Ron Rinehart, saw decedent on a daily basis. Rinehart
observed that decedent cared about and maintained a good physical
appearance even though he was depressed. Without question,
decedent knew who his relatives were and what property he owned.
Decedent became so angry concerning the conservatorship that he
could not talk about it. His meetings with his family were short
confrontations. Decedent wanted someone to take care of him, but
Rinehart observed that decedent was doing well on his own.
According to Rinehart, decedent was never delusional, although he
blamed his children for his situation and was very angry with
Decedent left the Omni program in Dodge City without approval.
Driving a car he bought with money saved from the allowance he
received from the conservatorship, he was arrested for DUI and
driving left of center. He was incarcerated in the Stanton County
Jail from July 11, 1987, to January 7, 1988. Dr. Roger Troup,
decedent's physician and friend, described decedent as a
"snowbird" someone who is comfortable, and wants to be, in
jail. Dr. Troup explained that when decedent was in jail, he got
out from under the control exercised by the conservatorship. Dr.
Bellows-Blakely noted that decedent considered being under the
conservatorship very similar to being in jail because one lost
control over one's life in both settings.
Jim Garrison, Stanton County Sheriff, knew decedent from
numerous encounters resulting from domestic arguments. He knew
decedent resented the conservatorship because conversations with
decedent always got to that issue. On October 27, 1987, decedent
executed his will while in jail. Sheriff Garrison, who was
present, had no doubt that decedent was of sound mind and knew
what was going on when signing the will.
Evan Nightingale, the attorney who drafted the will, died on
December 26, 1988, just prior to decedent's death. His partner,
Shirley Kyner, was a witness to the execution of the will. Kyner
had no question in her mind that decedent was competent ...