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Diaz v. Ashworth

963 So. 2d 731 (2007)

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Diaz v. Ashworth

Florida District Court of Appeal

963 So. 2d 731 (2007)

Facts

Jorge Mesa, decedent, had no relatives, and his first will left his entire estate to his father’s sister-in-law. Mesa suffered from AIDS, and Francisco Gerardo Diaz (plaintiff), a Catholic priest from whom Mesa had sought spiritual guidance, regularly visited Mesa, paid for some of his expenses, and drove him to doctor’s appointments. Mesa executed a second will leaving his entire estate to Diaz. After Mesa’s relationship with Diaz cooled, Mesa’s neighbors, Anibel and Frank Ashworth (defendants), assisted Mesa with chores and getting to his doctor’s appointments. When Mesa’s health deteriorated, the Ashworths took him to the hospital. The hospital described Mesa as alert and oriented. While hospitalized, Mesa told Anibel he wanted to make a new will, and Frank arranged for his own attorney, Pilafian, to draft the will. Mesa spoke with Pilafian over the phone about his wishes. Mesa checked himself out of the hospital the next day, and the Ashworths brought Mesa to see his regular physician, Dr. Steinhart, who testified that Mesa was aware of his impending death and was competent to make the decision to enter home hospice care. The Ashworths then drove Mesa to Pilafian’s office to execute the will. The Ashworths were present for the will execution, and Anibel and Pilafian’s secretary acted as witnesses. The will was read to Mesa prior to execution and named Frank as Mesa’s sole beneficiary. The secretary testified Mesa was of sound mind. Mesa died shortly thereafter. Diaz challenged, arguing the will was the product of the Ashworths’ undue influence and that Mesa lacked testamentary capacity. The trial court rejected Diaz’s challenge, and Diaz appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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