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Estate of Lensch
California Court of Appeal
177 Cal. App. 4th 667 (2009)
Gladys Lensch died in a nursing home. Eleven hours later, Gladys’s son, Jay, was found dead of apparent suicide. On Jay’s death certificate, the medical examiner marked Jay’s time of death as the time that Jay’s body was discovered. However, Jay most likely died at some point before being discovered, possibly as much as two days earlier. Gladys’s will divided her estate equally between Jay and her daughter, Claudia. Gladys also had four grandchildren, and her will stated that she believed that Jay and Claudia would each “provide for the wellbeing of my grandchildren in the event of my death.” However, Jay had a troubled relationship with his sons, Jason and Ean (the sons) (plaintiffs). Jay’s will gave his sons nothing and left his residuary estate to charity. The sons and Jay’s estate (defendant) disagreed about whether Gladys had died first and Jay had inherited from her before he died, or whether Jay had died first and his gift of half of Gladys’s estate had lapsed. Without holding a full evidentiary hearing, the trial court ruled that Jay had lived longer than Gladys and that the sons did not inherit anything from Gladys’s estate. The sons appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Haerle, J.)
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