LaCroix v. Senecal

The Facts

  • T died¬† on Apr. 19, 1951
  • T left a will dated Mar. 26, 1951 and a codicil dated April 10, 1951.
  • Residuary clause of the will left the residue of T’s estate in equal share to nephew, Nelson (N), and friend, Aurea (A)
  • Codicil edited the name of nephew to “Marcisse” aka Nelson and left the rest of the will intact.
  • A is not related to T
  • A’s husband was one of the witnesses to codicil

Procedural History

  • Will and codicil were admitted to probate on May 22, 1951

The Issue

  • Whether the doctrine of dependent relative revocation may be invoked to sustain a gift by will, when such gift has been revoked in a codicil which substantially reaffirmed the gift but was void as to it by reason of the interest of a subscribing witness

The Rule

  • Every devise or bequest given in any will or codicil to a subscribing witness, or to the husband or wife of such subscribing witness, shall be void unless such will or codicil shall be legally attested w/o the signature of such witness, but the competency of such witness shall not be affected by any such devise or bequest.
  • If a testator cancels or destroys a will with a present intention of making a new one immediately and as a substitute and the new will is not made or, if made, fails of effect for any reason, it will be presumed that the testator preferred the old will to intestacy, and the old one will be admitted to probate in the absence of evidence overcoming the presumption.

The Holding/Disposition

  • Yes

Court’s Reasoning

  • Only purpose for executing the codicil was to revise the name of nephew, to eliminate any uncertainty as to his identity

T did not intend to make any change in the disposition of her estate


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