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Breeden v. Stone

Supreme Court of Colorado
992 P.2d 1167 (2000)


Facts

Spicer Breeden committed suicide on March 19, 1996, two days after he was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident. Shortly before committing suicide, Breeden scribbled a brief holographic will giving “everything I have” to Sydney Stone (respondent), specifying the addresses of his real property as well as stocks, bonds, jewelry and clothes. Previously in 1991, Breeden had executed a formal will and a holographic codicil. These documents left his estate to various people, not including Stone. Nor did the documents include Breeden’s father, Vic Breeden, Sr. (petitioner) and sister, Holly Connell (petitioner). Various people, including Breeden’s sister, father and brother, Vic Breeden, Jr. (petitioner), filed exceptions to the holographic will claiming Breeden lacked testamentary capacity. Evidence was offered to show that Breeden had been using cocaine and alcohol for several years prior to his death and that he had consumed both cocaine and substantial alcohol on the night of his death. Testimony indicated that Breeden had drastic mood swings and had paranoid fears about threats against himself and his dog. Some handwriting experts testified that Breeden possessed the motor skills to write his will and some of Breeden’s friends testified that he had previously stated his intention to exclude his family from his will. The probate court found that Breeden did not lack testamentary capacity to execute the holographic will and formally admitted the will to probate. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court of Colorado. 

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Holding and Reasoning (Rice, J.)

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