Brief Fact Summary. Two instruments were found among the decedent’s personal effects when she died. One instrument was a formal will with pencil marks scratching out several provisions. The other instrument was a handwritten note titled the decedent’s will but was unwitnessed and unsigned. The Propounder contends that the first instrument should be admitted to probate.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a will is cancelled on the belief that a new will is valid or on the intention of making a new will and the revocation of the old will is so related to the making of the new will the Court will apply the doctrine of dependent relative revocation to give effect to the old will.
If it is clear that the cancellation and the making of the new will were parts of one scheme, and the revocation of the old will was so related to the making of the new as to be dependent upon it, then if the new will be not made, or if made is invalid, the old will, though canceled, should be given effect, if its contents can be ascertained in any legal way.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the trial court err in admitting the decedent’s will to probate with scratched out provision over the presumption that it had been revoked?
Held. No. Affirmed. The trial court did not err in admitting the will to probate under the doctrine of dependent relative revocation. There was sufficient evidence to rebut the statutory presumption of revocation and give rise to a presumption in favor of the Propounder.
Discussion. The doctrine of dependent relative revocation can be summarized as when a testator intended to make a new will, or made one which failed, will not alone prevent a cancellation of a will from operation as a revocation. If it is clear that the cancellation and the making of a new will were part of one scheme and the revocation of the old will was so related to the making of the new will as to be dependent upon it then the new will not being made or being held invalid will allow the old to be given effect. Here the Court found evidence in support of the application of the doctrine of the dependent relative revocation.