Monday, November 11, 2013

In re Estate of Washburn case brief

In re Estate of Washburn case brief summary
690 A.2d 1024 (1997)

Respondent caretaker appealed an order of the Rockingham County Probate Court (New Hampshire), which granted a judgment in favor of petitioner niece in the niece's action challenging the testatrix's testamentary capacity to execute her will and denied the caretaker's motion for reconsideration.


In her first will, the testatrix provided that her home and the residue of her estate would default to the niece. Six years later, the testatrix executed a second will under which she left money to the caretaker and the residue to the niece. In the final will, executed three weeks later, she left money to the niece and provided that the caretaker was to receive the residue, which included the home and personal estate. The testatrix was found to have suffered from Alzheimer's disease at the time of the execution of the third will, resulting in her inability to recollect the property she wished to dispose of and understand its general nature. The caretaker asserted that niece did not rebut the presumption of due execution of the will.


  • The court affirmed the judgment granted to the niece, holding that the testatrix lacked testamentary capacity. 
  • The niece rebutted the presumption of capacity with medical testimony of the testatrix's illness and behavior. 
  • Further testimony by lay witnesses indicated confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of competency of the testatrix. 
  • The burden then shifted to the caretaker to prove the testatrix's capacity by a preponderance of the evidence.


The court affirmed the judgment granted to the niece.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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