Interesting recent decision out of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York regarding a jury's finding that a Will was valid. In re Estate of Fraccaro, 2018 NY Slip Op 319:
Antonio Fraccaro's 2012 Will left his estate to a hospital. In 2015, shortly after moving into an adult home and while terminally ill with cancer, Fraccaro signed another Will leaving half of his estate to Alberta Ross, the operator of the adult home. He died three days later.
The hospital, the NY State Attorney General, and the Executor of the 2012 Will challenged the validity of the 2015 document, saying it was not properly executed, Fraccaro lacked capacity, and Ross had exercised undue influence over Fraccaro. The jury found Fraccaro was competent, there was no undue influence, and the Will was properly executed.
The appeals court noted that the Will was entirely handwritten by Ross, with no lawyer present at the signing. One of the two witnesses to the Will - a resident and employee of the adult home - said Fraccaro had not eaten and she had given him oxycodone about 30 minutes prior to signing his Will. She could not recall if he had his glasses, which he needed for reading the document. The second witness - also a resident of the adult home and a friend of Ross - gave testimony with "multiple inconsistencies" and in conflict with her deposition testimony, the Court said.
New York state law requires that a Will submitted for probate be validly executed and express the testator's intent. The Court found the jury's verdict to be "against the weight of the evidence" and insufficient to support the finding that the Will was valid and properly executed.
Making sure your Will is properly prepared, signed, and witnessed is important. If you have questions about a Will, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help. We proudly represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.