Lipper v. Weslow

The Facts

  • T was married 3 times
  • From 1st marriage she had son, Julian, who died in 1949, and was father of Ps (Julian, Julia, and Alice)
  • T married Mr. Lipper (deceased) and had 2 children (Ds, Frank and Irene)
  • T married Mr. Block and had no children (Block post-deceased T)
  • T executed will in January 1956 with the help of Frank, an attorney
  • Frank was a beneficiary and the Independent Executor of will (no bond)
  • Frank lived next door to T and had a key to her house.
  • Will was witnessed by 2 former associates of Frank
  • Will was not read to T prior to her signing of it.
  • T did not discuss will w/ anyone at time she executed it.
  • The bulk of the estate was devised to Ds
  • $7,000 was to be deducted as an advance from Irene’s share and $9,300 was to be deducted as an advance from Frank’s share
  • Nothing was to be considered an advance to T’s deceased son Julian
  • Will had no contest clause
  • Had paragraph disclaiming any influence held by Ds and explaining why nothing was left to Ps
  • T claimed in will Ps had been distant and unfriendly
  • T died 22 days after will was executed

Procedural History

  • Will contested on the grounds of undue influence

The Issue

  • Whether there is any evidence of undue influence on a will that is written by a lawyer who is also a beneficiary of the will

The Rule

  • Will contestants must prove that the will as written resulted from the D substituting his mind and will for that of T.

The Holding/Disposition

  • No

Court’s Reasoning

  • Frank bore ill-will to dead half-brother
  • There is evidence the recitations in the will about the behavior of the disinherited family were untrue
  • Ps offered no direct evidence and relied wholly on circumstantial evidence to show undue influence
  • T was of sound mind at time of execution, w/ a strong will and good physical health for her age
  • T’s husband died in 1949 and Ps admittedly came about T less often
  • A worker in T’s home testified that T had no intention of leaving the Ps anything and would make sure her will espoused such

Ps did establish a confidential relationship existed and that Frank had the motive and opportunity for undue influence

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