Callahan's Estate

29 N.W.2d 352 (1947)

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Callahan’s Estate

Wisconsin Supreme Court
29 N.W.2d 352 (1947)

SC

Facts

Eva Callahan (Eva) and Dr. John Callahan Sr. (John) were married with two children, John Jr. and Albert. Over the years, Eva and John each drafted multiple wills, and each time the wills were substantially identical. In 1940, Eva and John updated their wills to give Albert a smaller portion of their property. In 1944, Eva and John again updated their wills, this time to give Albert and John Jr. equal portions of their property. Quincy Hale was the attorney who prepared these wills. On January 1, 1945, Hale was visiting with Eva and John when John told Hale that he and Eva had destroyed their 1944 wills with the intention of reinstating their 1940 wills. Eva was in the room and said nothing. The next day, Hale informed John that the couple’s destruction of the 1944 wills did not reinstate the 1940 wills. Hale drafted a new will for John, which John signed. Hale did not do the same for Eva at that point because John was in poor health and his will was more urgent. John died three days later. On January 21, 1945, before Eva could sign a new will, she became sick and was admitted to the hospital and rendered incompetent to execute a will. Eva died later that year. Hale filed Eva’s 1940 and 1944 wills for probate in the alternative. The trial court applied the doctrine of dependent-relative revocation and admitted the 1944 will to probate. John Jr. and Albert appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rector, J.)

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