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In re Wright’s Estate

California Supreme Court
60 P.2d 434 (Cal. 1936)


Facts

Lorenzo B. Wright had Grace Thomas draw up his will. The will left his property to his friend, daughter, and granddaughter. Additionally, Wright left one dollar each to several other individuals. Wright passed away on May 2, 1933, and a petition to admit his will to probate was filed. Wright’s daughter contested the will. At the hearing, Thomas and the two subscribing witnesses testified that they each thought Wright was of unsound mind when he signed the will. As support, Thomas testified that she thought the will was odd because it gave one dollar each to several individuals. She also testified that she had considered Wright to be odd for a long time. The two subscribing witnesses only said they had thought Wright had not been of sound mind for a long time before the will was made. Several other family members and acquaintances of Wright also testified that they believed Wright was of unsound mind. The testimony of these witnesses highlighted instances of abnormal behavior, including that he ran out of his house only partially clothed on several occasions, he picked out silverware from garbage, and he would fake his death to scare his neighbors. The probate court denied the petition on grounds that Wright lacked testamentary capacity when he signed the will.

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Holding and Reasoning (Seawell, J.)

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