Posts Tagged ‘incompetent’

Will Contests Must Be Based on Actual Evidence

APRIL 28, 2014 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 16

We have written before about the fact that, despite popular notions, will contests are actually quite rare. We have explained to our readers that mounting a will contest can be an expensive proposition, and that the likelihood of success is usually slight. Those observations remain true today, but that doesn’t stop family members (and even non-family claimants) from insisting that a loved one’s will is invalid because, well, it just is.

A recent Arizona appellate decision highlights the kind of objections we sometimes see. The case involves the estate of a man we’re going to call Ralph Dobson, who died in 2013.

Ralph had signed a will in 2010, naming his caretaker Margie as personal representative of his estate and his primary beneficiary. He did not name any of his children; an earlier, 2002 will had named his son Barney as personal representative and provided for the division of his estate into equal shares among his children. Margie, in addition to being Ralph’s caretaker, was also Barney’s ex-wife.

Barney objected to the admission of the 2010 will to probate. He argued that it was the product of undue influence, that Ralph had obviously not understood what he was signing (the will even made an error in Ralph’s full legal name), and that the witnesses could not even identify a photo of his father. He represented himself in the probate proceeding, challenged his ex-wife’s witnesses and exhibits, and explained his objections to the probate judge. He did not call any witnesses (other than giving his own testimony).

At the end of the trial in probate court, the judge found the 2010 will was valid and that it revoked the 2002 will. That meant Margie would be personal representative of the estate, and that the estate would go to her under the later will.

Barney appealed. He still represented himself, and he clearly did not understand how the appellate process worked. He attached exhibits to his appeal, apparently thinking the appellate judges would decide for themselves whether Ralph knew what he was doing. His appeals brief did not comply with the rule requirements. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals gave up, ruled that Barney had waived all his arguments and simply affirmed the probate judge’s determination that the 2010 will was Ralph’s final will. Estate of Demaree, April 18, 2014.

As we said, this new case does not break up any unplowed ground. There is nothing profound in the court’s holding, and no greater truth immediately apparent. What it does do, though, is to give us a chance to repeat this notion: will contests are difficult to sustain, they are infrequently filed, and they seldom succeed.

Would Barney have done better if he had hired a lawyer? Probably. We simply don’t have enough information to know whether there were facts to support his position, or whether a lawyer would have been able to ferret them out and produce the evidence the court would need to rule in his favor. We do know, though, that Barney was poorly equipped to see what information was truly relevant and even persuasive, and he did not do a great job of getting the important parts before the probate judge (and, later, the Court of Appeals).

Would a lawyer have been interested in Barney’s case? It’s impossible to be sure based on the record available, but it would not be too surprising if the answer turned out to be “no”.

Here are some of the notions that we often see among family members (which are, we might immediately note, not correct, at least in Arizona):

  • A will has to leave something to family members. Not true. You are completely free to disinherit your spouse, your children, even your minor children (caution: this principle is not the same in every state — we are talking here about Arizona). If you do, they might be entitled to a very small portion of your estate anyway — but that does not mean your disinheritance is invalid. You do not even need to name your children, and you certainly do not need to leave them even a nominal amount.
  • A will leaving everything to a non-family member is automatically suspect. Not true. While caretakers are often situated so that they are able to exercise undue influence, they are also often in a position to enjoy the genuine gratitude and affection of the person they were caring for. A good lawyer will insist on more information about the relationship before making any assumptions about a will challenge.
  • If a family member challenges the will, they will be entitled to receive something. This one is really hard for people to grasp sometimes. If you die without a will, your estate will usually pass to your children and your surviving spouse, in some proportions (it depends, in Arizona, on whether the children are all also your spouse’s children). If your will is invalid, and there is not an earlier will, then you died without a will. So there is simply no reason for your second cousin to want to challenge your will — even if it is completely invalid he will not receive anything from your estate (assuming you have any descendants or closer relatives).
  • Lawyers love to challenge wills. Nope, we don’t. It’s hard to do, and success rates are not high. Few lawyers will take on will contests on a contingency fee basis (though some might, depending on the facts) — so that means you’ll be writing checks every month to maintain any will contest, too.
  • When it’s obvious to everyone in the family that undue influence was exerted, that will be enough to challenge the will. Nope. The burden of proving undue influence is usually on the person challenging the will, and they have to show clear and convincing evidence of the undue influence. There is a rule that reverses the burden of proof in some cases, but it is not automatically triggered, and it’s not all that clear that it changes much about the requirements for challenging a will.
  • If the family can show that mom (or dad) was confused and disoriented, that will be all that it takes to defeat the will. Not at all. People with marginal capacity (or even largely incapacitated adults) may well be able to sign a will. All they have to have is the ability to identify at least some family members, to recognize that they have assets, and to understand that a will operates to pass assets at death. That’s not a very high barrier. And there’s something in the law called the “lucid moment” concept: people are presumed to be able to have a lucid moment even in a heavily foggy patch.

The lesson here: if you believe a spouse or parent was unduly influenced, you need to get good legal advice right away. Expect to pay for it — but if you don’t get counsel, you are much more likely to end up in the same position as Barney.

 

 

Court Annuls Marriage After Death of “Spouse”

JANUARY 20, 2014 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 3

Cynthia Madsen (not her real name) was, according to her doctor, already showing signs of dementia in 2007. In fact, her doctor wrote that she was not able to manage her own financial affairs. By mid-2009, her condition had worsened; her doctor wrote that she could not make decisions in her own best interests, and that her children should seek a guardianship because there was danger that someone might try to take advantage of her.

No guardianship or conservatorship proceeding was initiated, though — Cynthia continued to live at home with the assistance of a caregiver and a live-in friend named Patrick. In 2011 — almost two years after her doctor reported that Cynthia could make no decisions on her own — Patrick asked Cynthia’s minister to officiate as he and Cynthia got married. The minister refused, saying he did not believe Cynthia was competent to make such a life decision.

Things began to accelerate a few months later. Cynthia was admitted to the hospital . Cynthia’s daughter filed a guardianship and conservatorship proceeding. In the course of that proceeding, a court-appointed investigator interviewed Cynthia and wrote that she was incapacitated; the investigator recommended that a full guardian and conservator should be appointed. The next day, Patrick and Cynthia were married. Two days after that, Cynthia’s daughter was appointed as her temporary guardian and conservator, and moved her to a care facility.

As guardian and conservator, Cynthia’s daughter filed a petition to dissolve the marriage or, in the alternative, to annul it. The difference is important — dissolution of the marriage (what most of us still refer to as “divorce,” though the terminology changed decades ago) recognizes that the married couple are unhappy in the marriage, or that at least one of them believes the marriage is irretrievably broken. Annulment, on the other hand, recognizes that the marriage was never valid in the first place.

While the dissolution/annulment case was pending, Cynthia died. The divorce court promptly dismissed the dissolution part of the petition — a divorce can not be granted after the death of one spouse, since the marriage is, in a sense, dissolved by the death. But the annulment proceeding continued. Ultimately, the court ruled that Cynthia was incompetent to enter into a marriage contract, and so the marriage never was effective. The annulment was granted.

The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the annulment. It is irrelevant, ruled the judges, that Patrick claimed that neither he nor Cynthia was unhappy in the marriage. It is irrelevant that Cynthia died while the case was pending. In this case, there was clear evidence that Cynthia did not understand the nature and significance of the marriage ceremony, and the trial judge’s determination that there was no effective marriage was allowed to stand. Savittieri v. Williams, January 2, 2014.

At Elder Law Issues we have written about this question before. In October of last year we reported on a Wisconsin case in which an annulment proceeding was allowed to continue after the death of the incompetent “spouse.” At the time we noted that we had not seen Arizona cases with the same facts, but we predicted that the result would likely be the same in Arizona. The Savittieri case shows that we predicted correctly.

It is worth noting that the result in this new Arizona case did not depend on the fact that a guardian and conservator was appointed almost immediately after the “marriage” ceremony. The fact of guardianship and conservatorship, by themselves, would probably not be enough to invalidate the marriage. As we have previously noted (this time citing a Missouri case with illustrative facts), the question is not whether a guardian or conservator was, or could be, appointed — it is whether the person understood the nature of the marriage and had mental capacity to enter into the marital contract itself. Cynthia did not — the guardianship and conservatorship were based on that incapacity, but did not necessarily prove it.

Can a Person With Dementia Sign Legal Documents?

FEBRUARY 25, 2013 VOLUME 20 NUMBER 8
Let’s get the answer to the question out of the way first, and then we can deal with more nuance. Yes, a person with dementia may be able to sign legal documents.

The inability to sign documents (what is usually known in the law as “incompetence” or, sometimes, “incapacity”) is a factual issue. In order to know whether a person is competent to sign, say, a power of attorney or a will, one must know what understanding the signer had at the time.

Capacity or competence are tested a little differently depending on what documents the person is signing. The most highly-developed law of capacity, unsurprisingly, centers on the level of understanding required to sign a will. That standard is almost universally referred to as “testamentary capacity.” Although precedent for defining testamentary capacity goes back at least to mid-sixteenth century England, the standard is occasionally restated or reformulated.

Arizona’s Supreme Court most recently reviewed testamentary capacity in 1973. In that case the Court described the woman who signed a will as:

“94 years old at the time she executed her will. She had very poor eyesight and was deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. As a result of previously broken hips, she used a “walker” to move around. Evidence shows that she was forgetful and did not remember the names of her great grandchildren. She spilled food when she ate and went to the bathroom frequently. She had a short attention span and it was difficult for some people to talk with her.”

The Court goes on to describe the three-part test for capacity to sign a will. A signer must have:

  1. the ability to know the nature and extent of one’s property,
  2. the ability to know the natural objects of one’s bounty, and
  3. the ability to understand the nature of the testamentary act.

Estate of Vermeersch, 109 Ariz. 125 (1973).

The standard of testamentary capacity, then, is quite low. Even people suffering from delusions or hallucinations have been found to have testamentary capacity. In an earlier Arizona Supreme Court case, the signer of a will had deteriorated markedly near the end of her life (and before her will was signed):

“during the last three years of her life she became coarse and profane. The testimony is to the effect that she shrieked and screamed at all hours of the day and night. That she mistreated her brother and cursed him, although he diligently performed his tasks around the house. That she became utterly careless in her dress, took to wearing very little clothing, rarely combed her hair or bathed, and on occasion was indecently exposed in the presence of neighborhood children. She stopped taking care of her house, stopped cooking, and ate from cans, although she fed her animals and chickens better food. She affirmed a belief in the ‘power of thought’ and practiced ‘black magic.’ She thought she could cast spells on people and tried to put a hex on the family next door so they would move out. She sat in the outhouse behind her home and watched the neighbors’ children from a peephole or stalked up and down along the fence between their property, glaring and gesturing to them and sticking out her tongue, in her efforts to get them to leave. She declared that the members of a church on the corner were praying for her to die so that they could acquire her property, when in fact, according to the minister, they wanted to move to another part of town. She was suspicious of people and built a fence around her house to ‘keep my enemies out’ and hung a padlock on the gate. In the last months before her death her conversation became incoherent and her mind wandered, she was forgetful and childish, and she seemed even more quarrelsome and ill-tempered than before.”

Despite that description, the will was found to be valid because the evidence did not specifically point to any relationship between her deteriorating mental condition and the terms of her will. Estate of Stitt, 93 Ariz. 302 (1963).

In yet another Arizona case, the will of a developmentally disabled man was upheld, even though he was said to function at about the mental level of a child of 10 or 12. Estate of Teel, 14 Ariz.App 371 (1971). In that case, the court quoted a standard legal text of the time for the proposition that “testamentary capacity is not the same as the ability to transact ordinary business.” That principle is still true today.

So can a person with dementia sign a will? Yes, so long as he or she can identify family, assets, and the purpose of making a will. A diagnosis of dementia may be evidence of some limitation in those abilities, but many demented individuals — particularly those early in the dementia process — can satisfy those minimal requirements.

What about other legal documents, like contracts, powers of attorney, deeds and the like? The answers will vary depending on the type of document, the circumstances of the signing and the nature and extent of the dementing condition. We’ll talk about those issues in a future installment.

Patient With Dementia May Have Authored Valid Will

NOVEMBER 7, 2011 VOLUME 18 NUMBER 38
A woman has been diagnosed as suffering from dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, and she resides in an assisted living facility. She has short-term memory loss, is frequently forgetful and has difficulty with tasks like playing cards and operating her television set. Can she sign a new will?

That is the legal question posed by Clara Marsh’s will, which she wrote out in longhand and signed in 2006. Ms. Marsh died two years later, and her son and daughter ended up in a legal battle over whether the will was valid.

To be more precise, Ms. Marsh’s will actually presents two related but independent legal questions. First: was she competent to sign the will on the day she did? Second: if she was competent, did her son and daughter-in-law exert undue influence on her in connection with the new will?

A brief background is in order. Ms. Marsh had a 1996 will that left everything equally to her two children. When she moved into a condominium in 2003, she wrote to the children telling them that she intended to leave her new home to her son Richard. He had helped her with the purchase, and she explained to the children that she had placed her new home in joint tenancy (with right of survivorship) with Richard. She did not, however, sign a new will at that time.

In 2006 Ms. Marsh moved to an assisted living facility, and the condominium was sold. The proceeds from that sale then became a bone of contention between her son Richard and her daughter Elaine Grayson. Richard thought the proceeds should be put into an account in his and his mother’s names as joint tenants; Elaine insisted that the proceeds be placed in an account in Ms. Marsh’s name alone.

As the two siblings (and their respective spouses) debated how to handle the sale proceeds, Elaine’s husband John filed a guardianship petition. He alleged that Ms. Marsh had Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Richard opposed the guardianship petition, and the relationship between the two couples deteriorated.

A month after the guardianship was filed Ms. Marsh prepared a one-paragraph will in her own handwriting. It said:

Because of all the legal problems Elaine and John are causing, I am afraid my final wishes will be ignored. To prevent this from happening, this is my new will: I leave everything to my son Richard and his wife Sam. I love you all very much.

This new will was witnessed by Ms. Marsh’s priest and the church secretary. She apparently did show it to Richard shortly after she signed it (he says he told her to “hide this someplace” and think it over), but she did not share it with Elaine or her husband John.

After Ms. Marsh’s death in 2008, Richard filed the handwritten will with the Ohio probate court. Elaine objected, arguing that (a) Ms. Marsh had been incompetent at the time of the will’s signing, and (b) Richard and his wife had exerted undue influence over Ms. Marsh to get her to disinherit Elaine. The probate court granted summary judgment to Richard, thereby dismissing the objections raised by Elaine.

The Ohio Court of Appeals agreed with the probate court on the first issue, but sent the dispute back to probate court for further proceedings regarding the undue influence count. Despite a diagnosis of dementia, and despite forgetfulness and confusion, the appellate court agreed that Ms. Marsh appeared to understand the things needed to make a valid will. She knew who her children (and in-laws) were, and even though she may not have known the precise nature of her assets she did understand what was involved with her estate. She knew she was making a will, and the effect of doing so. Summary judgment was appropriate on the question of her legal capacity to sign a will. Despite her limitations, despite her diagnosis and despite her living situation, she was able to make her new will.

But it still might be possible to show that she was subjected to undue influence, and the appellate court took pains to distinguish the two concepts. Undue influence, the court noted, is not the same as general influence — even “strong and controlling” influence. To be “undue,” influence must be so pervasive and effective as to result in the document reflecting the wishes of the influencer and not those of the signer. That is a high barrier for a will challenger to cross, but Elaine should be given a chance to introduce evidence to support her claim, ruled the Court of Appeals. In Re Estate of Marsh, October 28, 2011.

Other than the obvious (“don’t exercise undue influence over seniors”), what lessons can we take from Ms. Marsh’s story to guide our actions when working with seniors like her? We might submit a couple for your consideration:

  • Don’t forget that, while you and other family members dispute how best to handle the senior’s finances (or life), he or she may have some strong opinions and may actually feel affected by your decisions, arguments and tactics.
  • “Winning” may not be as important in family disputes as figuring out a way to get along. The cost of this particular dispute: thousands of dollars in legal fees, irreparable damage to family relationships and (and not least) psychic injury to the individual everyone was trying to protect.
  • Family disputes are sometimes about the best interests of a vulnerable family member, sometimes about dollars, sometimes about pride, and sometimes about control. In our professional experience, those last are often the most difficult ones to resolve.

“Full Faith and Credit” Applies In Two-State Probate Actione

APRIL 5, 2004 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 40

A Florida court found Alvarado Kelly incompetent in 1960, and appointed a guardian to manage his property. Fifteen years later Mr. Kelly moved to a facility in Mississippi operated by Sarah Cuevas; he lived in that facility until his death twenty five years later. After his death Mr. Kelly’s brother William and Ms. Cuevas became embroiled in a legal dispute involving the courts of both states.

Mr. Kelly had signed a will while he lived in Mississippi, and he had named Ms. Cuevas as executrix (what we in Arizona would call “personal representative”). Shortly after his death Ms. Cuevas filed the will for probate with the Mississippi courts, gave notice to William Kelly as the next of kin, and secured a court order appointing her as executrix and finding the will to be Mr. Kelly’s valid will.

William Kelly then filed a proceeding in the Florida courts. He acknowledged that there had been a finding in Mississippi, but he argued that it was invalid both because he had not actually participated and because his brother had never been a resident of Mississippi.

William Kelly argued that since his brother had been adjudged incompetent and the Florida courts had never given specific permission for him to relocate to Mississippi, he remained a resident of Florida for the rest of his life. He also insisted that the will was invalid because Ms. Cuevas had exercised undue influence.

Ms. Cuevas filed a motion to dismiss the Florida probate, but the Florida court agreed with William Kelly that her appointment by the Mississippi court was invalid. A Florida bank was appointed as personal representative of Mr. Kelly’s estate and authorized to collect his assets.

The Florida Court of Appeals reversed the probate court’s decision, however. In doing so, it relied partly on the U.S. Constitution, which requires the courts of each state to give “full faith and credit” to the courts of sister states in most situations.

In this case, ruled the appellate court, Ms. Cuevas had given William Kelly notice of the pending Mississippi proceedings, and an opportunity to file pleadings and present his argument that any proceedings should be in Florida. When the Mississippi court admitted Mr. Kelly’s will to probate it made a determination that he was domiciled in Mississippi; if William Kelly disagreed with that conclusion he needed to make his argument in Mississippi, rather than just filing his own proceeding in Florida. Cuevas v. Kelly, March 26, 2004.

Mr. Kelly’s probate proceedings provide an interesting illustration of the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution, and of its application to probate proceedings. It also demonstrates that it is unwise to ignore the proceedings in another state, hoping to later file a competing action in a more friendly jurisdiction.

December, 2005, update: In a related case in the Mississippi courts, that state’s Court of Appeals ruled that probate proceedings were proper in Mississippi. William Kelly, the decedent’s brother, had argued in the Mississippi proceedings that there was no jurisdiction for a probate there, since (he insisted) all of Alvarado Kelly’s assets necessarily belonged in Florida where he had resided when he had last been competent to select a residence. The Mississippi chancery court (where probate proceedings are tried) had ruled that it would be “impossible” to imagine that Alvarado Kelly had lived in Mississippi for thirty years without accumulating clothing or other personal items. His death in Mississippi, coupled with the existence of any assets at all, gave Mississippi courts jurisdiction over his estate, and the Court of Appeals agrees that those probate proceedings were properly initiated. In the Matter of Estate of Kelly, December 6, 2005.

Appointment of “Next Friend” In Divorce Reversed on Appeal

DECEMBER 8, 2003 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 23

It is a common problem facing lawyers and litigants. What can be done if one of the parties to a lawsuit is a minor, or an incapacitated adult? Who makes decisions about the litigation if one party lacks legal capacity to handle their own financial and personal decisions?

In many courts, the civil litigation rules permit appointment of a “guardian ad litem,” an “attorney ad litem” or a “next friend” to guide lawyers and the court itself on how to proceed. One problem with those rules, however, is that they seldom make clear how such a person is to be appointed, who would qualify or what authority they might have. A recent case in Texas illustrates the confusion.

Alejandro Saldarriaga filed for divorce from his wife Debra Ann in late 1999. Both spouses had lawyers, and the litigation proceeded for three years without resolution of child custody, child support or property division issues. Finally Debra Ann Saldarriaga’s attorney, Lin Zintsmaster, decided her client was mentally incompetent to complete the divorce.

Ms. Zintsmaster filed a motion asking for appointment of someone to make decisions about how to proceed with the divorce litigation. The judge appointed local attorney Jerry Jones to be Ms. Saldarriaga’s “next friend,” and to make decisions about how the divorce should be completed.

Mr. Jones, in turn, filed a petition for appointment as Ms. Saldarriaga’s guardian, and yet another lawyer was appointed to represent her in that proceeding. Meanwhile Mr. Jones went ahead and negotiated a resolution of the remaining child custody, child support and financial decisions in the divorce proceeding.

Ms. Saldarriaga’s doctor wrote that she was not incapacitated, and the guardianship proceeding was dismissed. Meanwhile, however, the divorce court accepted the settlement negotiated by her “next friend” Jerry Jones, and the divorce was finalized. Ms. Saldarriaga appealed, arguing that the court never had authority to appoint someone to take over handling her case.

The Texas Court of Appeals in Austin agreed, and set aside the negotiated settlement. The court noted that there is a mechanism for appointment of a guardian, and the procedure must be followed in order to protect the rights of people who are alleged to be incapacitated. Since the powers of a “next friend” look so much like the authority given to a guardian, said the judges, the procedures must be similar. The divorce court simply did not have authority to name someone to take over Ms. Saldarriaga’s case. Saldarriaga v. Saldarriaga, November 13, 2003.

Although Mr. Jones testified in the divorce proceeding about the difference between the titles “guardian ad litem,” “attorney ad litem” and “next friend,” there is no clear consensus among practitioners about the distinctions. A “guardian ad litem” is someone, not necessarily an attorney, appointed to be an incapacitated person’s “guardian” for the limited purpose of a pending legal proceeding. Most practitioners think that a “guardian ad litem” should counsel the attorney as to what would be in the client’s best interests, although many would argue that the proper role is to help figure out what the incapacitated client wants to accomplish, and whether those goals are reasonable. An “attorney ad litem,” a term not used in most jurisdictions, fulfills a similar function but is necessarily an attorney; the role implies that the “attorney ad litem” will argue for what is in the patient’s legal best interest, not just his or her personal best interest.

Finally, the “next friend”–the choice used by the divorce judge in the Saldarriaga case–is the least well-defined of all. Many states permit a lawsuit to be brought by a “next friend” (Arizona is one), but the term is usually used for litigation filed on behalf of minor children by their parents. As Debra Ann Saldarriaga’s case makes clear, neither it nor either of the other designations should be used as a substitute for a real court determination of the ability of a client to make his or her own legal decisions.

Beneficiary Change Requires Higher Mental Capacity Level

MAY 26, 2003 VOLUME 10, NUMBER 47

An individual must be mentally competent before making a valid will, signing a contract or executing almost any legal document. Confusion often arises because the level of competence required may vary depending on what sort of document is being signed.

Take the case of Agnes Marquis of Bangor, Maine. In November, 2000, she met with her insurance agent for over an hour, discussed her plans with him, and then signed a change of beneficiary form naming nephew Daniel Pelletier to receive several annuity contracts. She told the insurance agent that Mr. Pelletier was the only relative who visited her on holidays, and he helped her run errands.

At about the same time Ms. Marquis was having other problems, according to witnesses. She believed that someone was talking to her through her television, that her dog had nursed her back to health when she fell ill, that unidentified Quakers were going to break into her house at night, and that she was going to marry Jesus. Ms. Marquis visited her doctor a week before and three weeks after she changed the annuity beneficiaries, and both times she was diagnosed as suffering from dementia.

Demented, delusional individuals can still sign new wills and change beneficiaries if they have the necessary level of mental capacity. The question in Ms. Marquis’ case was which level of capacity she needed.

Mr. Pelletier argued that the proper standard was “testamentary” capacity—the level required to make a change to one’s will. Under that test, Ms. Marquis would only have to know who her relatives were, have a general notion of the nature and extent of her assets, and understand the concept of naming someone to receive property after her death. The administrator of her estate argued, however, that Ms. Marquis required “contractual” capacity—the ability to understand the nature of an annuity contract as if she were entering into a new agreement, rather than simply changing beneficiaries. After a hearing the probate court agreed that contractual capacity was the proper standard, and that Ms. Marquis did not have sufficient capacity to change beneficiaries.

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld the trial judge’s decision. Though changing beneficiaries in an annuity or life insurance contract resembles making a will, it is really a revision of a contract and requires the higher level of capacity. The Court also ruled that there was sufficient evidence that Ms. Marquis lacked the necessary capacity, and ordered that the annuity proceeds be paid to her estate for distribution to the charities named in her will. Estate of Marquis, May 12, 2003.

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