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Estate of Alburn

Wisconsin Supreme Court
118 N.W.2d 919 (1963)


Facts

Ottilie L. Alburn executed two wills, the first in Milwaukee (Milwaukee will) in 1955 and the second in Kankakee, Illinois (Kankakee will) in 1959. While the distribution of Ottilie’s estate differed in the two wills, both wills left the majority of Ottilie’s estate to her friend Olga Olson and to the Alburns, Ottilie’s deceased husband’s family. Although Ottilie left next-of-kin who stood to inherit her estate under the intestacy laws, neither of her wills made bequests to such kin, except the Kankakee will, which made a bequest to one of her siblings. After drafting the Kankakee will, which revoked the Milwaukee will, Ottilie moved to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin to live with her brother, Edwin Lehmann and his wife, Olga, where she stayed until her death in November 1960. After arriving at Edwin’s home, Ottilie told him that she had destroyed the Kankakee will and gave him the pieces of the will to disburse and dispose of at the dump. Edwin did as requested by Ottilie. After Ottilie’s death, her sister, Adele Ruedisili (plaintiff) filed for letters of administration, claiming that Ottilie had died intestate. Then the Milwaukee will, which had been in the possession of the attorney who drafted it, was offered for probate by Viola Henkey (defendant) who was a beneficiary and named as executor under that will. The Kankakee will was then offered for probate by Lulu and Doris Alburn (defendants). At a joint hearing in county court, Edwin’s wife testified that she had a conversation with Ottilie sometime after she destroyed the Kankakee will in which Ottilie said the Milwaukee will “was the one she wanted to stand.” The county court applied the doctrine of dependent relative revocation and held that Ottilie had destroyed the Kankakee will in the mistaken belief that she was reviving the Milwaukee will, and therefore the revocation of the Kankakee will was ineffective and the Kankakee will was admitted to probate. Ruedisili appealed the order of the county court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Currie, J.)

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