Interesting recent decision out of the Illinois Court of Appeals holding that a testator's delusions didn't affect his testamentary capacity - In re Estate of Myren, 2018 Ill. App. (4th) 170860-U.
David Myren's children contested his 2012 Will, in which he left his estate to the National Rifle Association and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They claimed that, due to "insane sexual delusions" regarding his children's activities, he was incapable of "recognizing and providing for the natural objects of his bounty" (the standard for capacity to make a Will).
The trial court ruled that although there was no basis for Myren's "delusional" statements, it did not find that "but for" the comments, he would have made the Will in question. The Illinois Court of Appeals agreed.
Testimony from Myren's long-time lawyer, doctor, and banker indicated that while he made unfounded comments about his children's sexual activities, he showed no confusion or neurosis that would cause him to favor charities over his children. Instead, the Court found, Myren was bitter that, following his acrimonious divorce from the children's mother, they sided with her. He also complained to acquaintances that the children did not allow him to see his grandchildren, they did not help with the farm, and they only showed up during deer season when they wanted to hunt on his land.
The appellate court said the ultimate question was whether his alleged sexual delusions destroyed his testamentary capacity, adding that even if a testator has an insane delusion, "if the property and objects of bounty are known by the testator, and the property is disposed of according to a plan, the Will will not be set aside for lack of testamentary capacity." Nothing indicated that Myren, who was a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment and enjoyed elk hunting, would not have made this Will but for his delusions. Myren had an obvious plan for his estate and legitimate reasons to disinherit his children, the Court determined.
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