Monday, November 11, 2013

In re Estate and Trust of Pilafas case brief

In re Estate and Trust of Pilafas case brief summary
836 P.2d 420 (1992)

Appellant remainder beneficiaries sought review of the judgment of the Superior Court of Maricopa County (Arizona) that held that the decedent had revoked both his will and inter vivos trust and had therefore died intestate.


At the time of the decedent's death, neither the original of his will nor his inter vivos trust agreement was found among his papers. Appellee heirs instituted this action asking the trial court for an adjudication of intestacy, determination of heirs, and determination of revocation of trust. The evidence submitted on the summary judgment motion of the heirs indicated that the decedent was in possession of the will at his death and that he meticulously saved all important documents.


  • The court applied the common law presumption that where a decedent was known to have been in possession of his will at death and the same could not have been found after his death, the decedent revoked the will. 
  • The court refused to apply this presumption to the trust; however, and it held that where the terms of the trust provided that it could only have been revoked or modified by a writing delivered to the trustee, no presumption of revocation applied because it could not have been revoked by physical destruction.

The court affirmed the judgment insofar as it held that the decedent had revoked his will; however, it reversed and remanded the portion of the judgment holding that the decedent had also revoked his trust agreement.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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