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Edwards v. Citizens National Bank of Leesburg (In re Estate of Edwards)

433 So. 2d 1349 (1983)

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Edwards v. Citizens National Bank of Leesburg (In re Estate of Edwards)

Florida District Court of Appeal

433 So. 2d 1349 (1983)

Facts

Six days before Francis Edwards died, he executed a new will leaving his entire estate to Richard Freeman (defendant), one of his employees. After the will was submitted to probate, Francis’s mother and sisters (the Edwardses) (plaintiffs) filed a petition for revocation of probate and for establishment of probate of a prior will. The Edwardses asserted that Francis was not of sound mind and suffered from insane delusions when he executed his most recent will. The Edwardses claimed that Francis’s mistrust of his own family and suspicion of customers in his store showed he suffered from insane delusions. Freeman submitted contrary evidence that Francis was justifiably suspicious of his customers because of a history of shoplifting and that his mistrust of his family members was because they had repeatedly disrespected his privacy and property. The Edwardses also claimed that Francis’s chronic heart disease had progressed to the point that it affected his mental capacity, supported by testimony from their expert physician. To counter, Freeman’s medical and psychiatric experts, two of whom saw Francis mere days after he executed his most recent will, all testified Francis was of sound mind and that there was no evidence of brain damage. The attorney who drafted the will also testified Francis was of sound mind when the will was executed and that he understood the practical effects of the will. Both sides conceded that Francis understood the nature and extent of his own property and the identity of his family members at the time of the will’s execution. The trial court found Francis had testamentary capacity and rejected the Edwardses’ petition to revoke the will’s probate. The Edwardses appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Orfinger, C.J.)

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