Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stevens v. Casdorph case brief

Stevens v. Casdorph case brief summary
508 S.E.2d 610 (1998)

Plaintiff nieces appealed a decision from the Circuit Court of Kanawha County (West Virginia) that granted a motion by defendant executors for summary judgment in the nieces' action challenging a will. The nieces claimed that the decedent's will was not executed according to the requirements set forth in W.Va. Code § 41-1-3 (1995).


Two months prior to his death, the executors took the decedent to a bank to execute his will. A bank employee and public notary took the will to two other bank employees for the purpose of having each of them sign the will as witnesses. The decedent did not accompany the notary to the employees' work area, and the employees testified during their depositions that they did not actually see the decedent place his signature on the will. In their challenge to the will, the nieces asserted that the execution of the will did not comply with W.Va. Code § 41-1-3 (1995).


  • In reversing the circuit court's grant of the executors' motion for summary judgment, the court noted that the law favored testacy over intestacy. 
  • However, the court found that none of the parties signed or acknowledged their signatures in the presence of each other. 
  • The situation met neither the narrow case law exception to the rule that actual execution of a written will had also comply with the dictates of W.Va. Code § 41-1-3, nor the specific provisions of W.Va. Code § 41-1-3.

The court reversed the circuit court's grant of the executors' motion for summary judgment in the nieces' action challenging the will.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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