Appeal from the Judgment entered on February 2, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil Division, at No. 82-15792.
Alfred A. Gollatz, Media, for appellant.
Robert J. Levis, Media, for appellee.
Beck, Hester and Roberts, JJ.
[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 493]
Patricia Gasper brought an equity action as guardian for her incompetent father, Walter Weir, now deceased, to set aside two real estate transfers which Weir made to his son-in-law, Aventino Ciao. The trial court denied relief and she appeals.
She asserts the trial court erred in (1) not finding a confidential relationship between Weir and Ciao, (2) refusing to consider after-discovered evidence, and (3) finding Weir competent at the time of the transfers. Since we find no prejudicial error of law or abuse of discretion, we affirm.
The factual background of the case is essential to an understanding of it. Ciao had lived in the Weir home for many years. He was the husband of Weir's deceased daughter. The couple had lived with Weir and his late wife for approximately ten years. Ciao continued to live with Weir even after the death of his wife and the death of his mother-in-law. Weir and Ciao developed a close personal relationship. In 1977, Gasper asked Ciao to leave her father's home, which he did. Gasper and her husband then moved in and cared for Weir.
Weir also owned a vacation home in Wildwood, New Jersey. Originally Gasper and her sister, Ciao's deceased wife, inherited this property from their grandfather. When Ciao's wife died, his wife's one-half interest in the property passed to him. Within a month of her death in 1975, Ciao responded to Gasper's insistence and joined her in gratuitously deeding title to the property to Weir and his wife. After Mrs. Weir died, her interest passed to her husband.
From 1977, when Ciao left the Weir home, through 1981, he and Weir continued to see each other regularly. In Fall 1981, Weir asked Ciao to take him to a lawyer because he wanted to settle his affairs. Ciao took Weir to see Neil Leibman, an attorney who had once advised Ciao against legal action to revoke his gift of the Wildwood property to the Weirs. After Weir conferred alone with Leibman, Leibman drafted a will for him and prepared the two deeds, transferring title to the Weir residence to Weir and Ciao as
[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 494]
joint tenants and title to the Wildwood property to Ciao. Both deeds were executed and recorded. Weir retained possession of his home, bank accounts, automobile and other assets.
In Spring 1982, Gasper discovered these transfers. Gasper's brother, Weir's son, then filed a petition to have Weir declared incompetent. The orphans' court determined he was incompetent on July 12, 1982, and appointed Gasper his guardian. She then brought the instant action to set aside the real estate transfers which occurred ...