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Estate of Mann
California Court of Appeal
184 Cal. App. 3d 593 (1986)
Hazel Mann had good relationships with two nephews, Roy Smith (plaintiff) and Norman Van Gorp (defendant). Mann was especially close with Smith. Mann began experiencing symptoms of senile dementia, including having trouble taking care of herself and occasionally forgetting people or important life events, such as a sister’s death. At the recommendation of Mann’s doctor, Dr. Lee, Smith became Mann’s legal conservator to help care for Mann. However, Mann still had some good moments, and her accountant believed she had a good grasp of her financial situation during that time period. A year later, Mann wanted to make a will. An attorney, Lee, and Mann’s housekeeper met with Mann to create the will. At that time, according to Lee, Mann did not yet have advanced dementia. All three witnesses believed that Mann was alert and knew that she was signing a will that day. In the will, Mann gave most of her estate to Smith. Mann died several years later. Van Gorp objected to Mann’s will, arguing that Mann’s dementia and the conservatorship meant that Mann had lacked the legal capacity to create a will. A jury found that Mann had lacked testamentary capacity. Smith appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kline, J.)
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