In re Estate of Washburn

The Facts

  • Barbara (D) was the principal beneficiary of testatrix’s April 1992 will
  • Testatrix (T) executed 3 wills
  • First will, dated October 1986, left $1,000 each to several named individuals and provided everything else go to her sister Margaret, or to her niece Catherine (P) in the event Margaret could not or would not take it
  • Second will, dated March 1992, left $1,000 each to certain named individuals, $5,000 to D, and everything else to P
  • Third will, dated April 1992, left $5,000 each to P and another person, and everything else went to D

Procedural History

  • TC held decedent lacked the testamentary capacity necessary to execute a will

The Issue

  • Whether testatrix was mentally capable enough to execute her will in April 1992

The Rule

  • Every person is presumed sane, until there is some evidence shown to rebut that presumption.

The Holding/Disposition

  • No, affirmed

Court’s Reasoning

  • D argues that the evidence is insufficient to rebut the presumption of sanity.
  • Medical testimony and lay testimony brought T’s sanity into question which led to the trial court finding T’s third will was invalid
  • D argues that no reasonable trier of fact could have found that, based on the evidence presented, T did not have the mental capacity to execute her third will.
  • Evidence support TC’s finding

Testamentary intentions of T were unclear and fluctuated.

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