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In re Snide

Court of Appeals of New York
418 N.E.2d 656 (1981)


Facts

In a joint execution ceremony, Harvey Snide and his wife, Rose Snide (proponent) executed mutual wills drafted by their attorney to be identical, leaving each spouse’s estate to the surviving spouse. However, when their attorney presented them with the envelopes containing their wills for execution, the names on the envelopes were reversed and they inadvertently signed one another’s wills. When Harvey died, Rose offered for probate the will drafted for her but bearing Harvey’s signature. Harvey and Rose’s adult children consented to probate of the will, but the guardian ad litem (objector) representing the interests of their minor child objected to probate because the minor child would inherit a portion of the estate through the intestacy laws if the will was void, but nothing under the will. The Surrogate’s Court admitted the will to probate, decreeing that the will be reformed to transpose Harvey’s and Rose’s names throughout the document. The Appellate Division reversed, relying on a historical review of lower court cases denying probate under such circumstances. Rose appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York. 

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Holding and Reasoning (­Wachtler, J.)

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Dissent (Jones, J.)

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