- Katherine Lane – Executrix (D)
- Jewel Jones Greer – Decedent (T)
- Floyd Wilson -P
- The will distributed T’s property into 17 equal shares to 17 beneficiaries.
- 16 of the beneficiaries were blood-relatives to T
- D was the only non-blood beneficiary and had spent much time caring for T until T’s death in 2000
- P challenged T’s testamentary capacity
- Jury found for P
- TC allowed JNOV for D
Did T lack the testamentary capacity to execute a will when ?
- A person is mentally capable to make a will if she has sufficient intellect to enable her to have a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of her property.
- No, affirmed
- Drafting attorney testified that T was mentally competent when the will was signed and that T had selected the beneficiaries of her will “emphatically”
- P never presented any evidence showing T was incapable of forming a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of her property, even when evidence is examined in a light most favorable to P’s side
- P called T eccentric, aged, and peculiar in the last years of her life.
- But the law does not withhold from the aged, the feeble, the weak-minded, the capricious, the notionate, the right to make a will, provided such a person has a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of their property
- Although perhaps persuasive to a jury, eccentric habits and absurd beliefs do not establish testamentary incapacity
- No expert or physician showed T lacked testamentary capacity
Dissents or Concurrences
- The issue is not for the court to decide is she lacked testamentary capacity; the issue is whether the evidence supported the jury’s finding and whether the JNOV was proper
- In this case, the evidence can support the jury’s finding and thus JNOV was improper
A court must allow the issue of testamentary capacity to go to a jury when there is a genuine conflict in the evidence regarding the testator’s state of mind.
Must look at the totality of the evidence.