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In re Strittmater

New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals
53 A.2d 205 (1947)


Facts

Shortly after Louisa F. Strittmater executed her will on October 31, 1944 devising her estate to the National Woman’s Party (the Party), she died on December 6, 1944. Her only surviving relatives were cousins with whom she had infrequent contact. Her will was challenged after submission to probate on the ground that Strittmater was insane. Evidence included the testimony of Strittmater’s long-term physician, a general practitioner who believed Strittmater suffered from a split-personality type of paranoia. The evidence showed that later in her life, despite having held her parents in high regard until and after their deaths, Strittmater’s love for her parents had turned into hatred. Evidence, primarily from notes written in the margins of books, showed that Strittmater vehemently hated men as a class and had become staunchly feminist. Additional evidence showed that she destroyed a clock, killed a kitten and used profane language. Strittmater joined the Party in 1925 and volunteered for the Party between 1939 and 1941, during which time she stated her intention to leave her estate to the Party. Strittmater’s dealings with her attorney and her bank , on the other hand, were normal. The decree of the Prerogative Court admitting Strittmater’s will to probate was appealed to the Essex County Orphan’s Court which found Strittmater insane and invalidated the will. That ruling was appealed to the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals. 

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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