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In re Roblin


    Citation. In re Roblin Industries, Inc., 52 B.R. 241, 1985 Bankr. LEXIS 5526 (Bankr. W.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 1985)

    Brief Fact Summary. Appellant was disinherited from his father’s will and contests the will being admitted to probate on grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, and fraud on the part of a beneficiary.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order to possess testamentary capacity one must understand the nature of the testamentary act, the natural objects of his bounty and the nature and extent of his property. For a presumption of undue influence to arise there must be a confidential relationship as well as a showing of suspicious circumstances. Courts will set aside a will provision that reflects that testator’s belief in false information arising from a fraudulent misrepresentation by a beneficiary, however such statement must be false and known to be such by the maker.


    Facts. Charles Ernest and Ollie Mr. Roblin had two children, the Appellant Charles Danna Roblin and the Respondent Ruth Emily Shantz. The couple separated in 1950 when Mr. Roblin discovered his wife had been sending their son money to pay for his bills. Mr. Roblin later suffered for a stroke and went to stay at a nursing home. Mr. Roblin refused visits from his son the Appellant. In 1953 Mrs. Roblin passed away leaving her estate equally to her two children. The Appellant received an additional amount of property that he had held jointly with right of survivorship with his mother. After her mother’s death the Respondent told her father that her mother left everything to her brother except a diamond ring. Mr. Roblin ordered that his daughter contact an attorney so that he could draft a will. Mr. Roblin died later that year leaving his entire estate, except one dollar, to his daughter the Respondent. Appellant attached his father’s will on several grounds.

    Issue.
    Whether there is evidence that the testator lacked testamentary capacity?

    Whether there is evidence that the testator’s will was the product of undue influence on the part of the Respondent, his daughter?

    Whether there is evidence that the Respondent’s statement to her father concerning her mother’s estate amounted to fraud?

    Held.
    No. Affirmed. In order to possess testamentary capacity the testator must understand and appreciate the nature of the testamentary act, know the natural objects of his bounty, and know the nature and extent of his property. The record shows that the testator had such capacity at the time he executed his will.

    No. Affirmed. There is not evidence to show that the Respondent every attempted to influence her father. Presuming there was a confidential relationship between the father and daughter, the Appellant was not able to prove any suspicious circumstances existed.

    No. Affirmed. To be fraudulent a statement must be false and known to be such by the maker when made to the testator. This statement may have been an exaggeration but it was not intended to deceive rather to communicate a belief more effectively.


    Discussion. In regards to testamentary capacity the Court notes that even though the testator asked for appointment of a conservator on the same day he executed his will does not show that he lacked capacity. The Court reasoned that a lack of desire to manage one’s affairs is the ability to direct the disposition of one’s estate are two different matters.


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