Monday, November 11, 2013

Breeden v. Stone case brief

Breeden v. Stone case brief summary
992 P.2d 1167 (2000)

The members of the decedent's family (petitioners in this case) challenged a Colorado court of appeal's opinion that affirmed the decision of the probate court.  The court ruled for the putative heir (respondent) in a dispute over the testamentary capacity of the decedent in drafting his holographic will.


The decedent committed suicide.  Prior to that suicide, he drafted a holographic will that purported to vest his estate to the respondent putative heir.
In doing so, he disinherited the petitioners, who were members of the decedent's family.
The respondent offered the will for probate.
The petitioners challenged it, making the claim that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity.
The probate court held for the respondent.
The court found that the decedent possessed testamentary capacity.
The petitioners appealed to the intermediate court and again to the current court after the intermediate court affirmed.


  • The highest court affirmed, and ruled that one may have insane delusions regarding some matters, be insane on others, and yet possess testamentary capacity capable to execute a will if the delusions do not materially affect the disposition of the will. 
  • Further, the Cunningham and insane delusion tests of testamentary capacity, although discrete, were not mutually exclusive and both could properly be applied to the same testator. 
  • Finally, the court found that the probate court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the petitioners' motion to dismiss.

The court affirmed the intermediate court's opinion.
The court held that the decedent was of sound mind at the time he executed his holographic will.
The court also held that the two tests of testamentary capacity, although discrete, were not mutually exclusive and stated that the probate court correctly applied the tests.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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