Wills I. Execution of Wills: a. 5 Requirements: i. Must be 18 or over ii. Will must be written iii. With testamentary intent (the point: sham instruments will not be given effect) iv. T (testator) must sign will (any mark-initials will serve as signature if so intended. Signature may be another person at T’s direction, in T’s presence). v. Two attesting witnesses who witness T’s signing (or T’s acknowledgement of previous signature or will)… b. Special Uniform Probate Code (UPC) Provisions: Under UPC, a court can validate a defectively executed will (e.g., there is only one attesting witness) if the will proponent establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the testator intended the document to be his will. In addition, under the UPC, a will that is signed by the T and notary is valid without the need for any witnesses (notorial will). c. If Portion of Will Follows T’s Signature: i. Clause present at time of execution: 1. Some States (wills must be signed at the end): Everything above good, everything below bad. 2. UPC and Majority; No problem, will include, clause is valid. ii. Clause added after execution: Rule is uniform through USA, Will valid, but addition is not. d. Holographic Wills (T writes document in her own handwriting): i. About half of sates: Not allowed. Not entitled to probate unless two attesting witnesses. ii. UPC and some other states: Valid if material provisions are in testators own handwriting and signed by him/her. 1. Material provisions= words that identify property and the beneficiaries who are to receive it. e. Presence Requirement: i. Minority Scope of Vision Test: Must be no impediment to visual contact. ii. UPC and Majority better rule: Conscious of where each other is and conscious of what each other is doing. f. Ancillary Proceeding (An "ancillary probate" is a proceeding when a person dies with property in more than one state or dies in one state with property in another): i. Common law and few remaining states: Will has to comply with law of state where property located. ii. UPC and Majority: Does will comply with one or more of the following?: 1. Place of execution? 2. Domicile at death? 3. Domicile at execution? g. Interested Witnesses: II. i. Older (Majority) Rule: Interested witness situation does not result in denial of probate of will, but beneficiary-witness loses legacy (purged from will) unless: 1. There were two disinterested witnesses (supernumerary rule), or 2. Witness-beneficiary would be an heir if there were no will, in which case she takes lesser of (1) amount given in will, or (2) intestate share. ii. UPC and Modern Trend: Interested witness rule abolished. A will or nay provision thereof is not invalid because will is signed by interested witness. iii. Note: Interested witness situation frequently raises undue influence issue. h. Self-Proved Wills: At time Will is signed by T and attesting witnesses (or some time thereafter in T’s lifetime), T and witnesses sign self-proving affidavit under oath before notary public. Affidavit recites all elements of due execution. Formalities of execution (but not mental capacity, fraud, undue influence, etc…) conclusively presumed. Revocation: a. Revocation by physical act requires: i. Intent to revoke, and ii. Physical act: Typical statute refers to burned, torn, cancelled, obliterated, or destroyed. b. Duplicate Wills: i. Sufficiency of Act: An act of revocation on one executed copy revokes all executed will copies. c. Writing VOID: i. Most States: No revocation. Cancellation must cross some language of the will. ii. UPC: Will cancelled. Act of cancellation can act anywhere on will as long as it’s there. iii. Xerox copies: No good in any state! Can’t appear on a photocopy or picture of will, must be a validly executed will or will copy itself (meaning a copy that was executed with same will formalities). d. Presumptions: i. Will in T’s possession from time of execution until death and found in mutilated condition after T’s death. Presumption: T did mutilating with intent to revoke. ii. Will last seen in T’s possession and control not found after T’s death. Reason it can’t be found is that T destroyed it with intent to revoke. iii. These presumptions are rebuttable: must show court someone else had these (had access) or had control and did these acts, presumption is then gone. e. Revocation by Proxy: Others Revoking on T’s Behalf (attorney for example): i. If order to destroy is never carried out, will is not revoked. ii. Revocation by another must be at T’s direction and in T’s presence. iii. If revocation by another does not meet the above standard, but is destroyed anyway, will is still not revoked. See lost wills statute. f. Lost Wills Statute: i. If will was not revoked, how can it be probated given the fact that it has been destroyed? By satisfying lost wills statute. In most states, lost will requires formal proceeding where proponents have burden of proving the contents of the lost will. Copy and one witness or other clear and convincing proof. ii. Additional issue raised by case where attorney messes up revocation of will or where attorney messes up execution of a will: Lucas v. Hamm: Attorneys can be/may be sued for negligence (tort). Mention that it is a possibility and move on. g. Codicil: Codicil is an amendment/supplement to a will and requires the same formalities as executing a will. i. Where a codicil makes no reference to will but contains slightly inconsistent provision, to the extent possible the will and codicil are read together. But to the extent of any inconsistent provision, the later document controls and thereby revokes by inconsistency the prior will. ii. The same rule can apply when there are two wills and the second does not in terms revoke the first. 1. If second will has no residuary clause, it is presumptively a codicil to the first. There is an implied revocation only to the extent of the inconsistency. 2. If second will has a residuary clause: That clause revokes the first will in its entirety by inconsistency (Only terms of second will considered!) iii. Majority Rules: Revocation of a will revokes all codicils thereto. BUT revocation of a codicil to a will does not revoke the will! h. Spouses and Divorce: i. UPC and Most States: Rule: Divorce following a will revokes all provisions in favor of ex-spouse; continue as if spouse dead. ii. If remarry same spouse, comes back in! iii. Mere separation doesn’t affect wife’s interest, only divorce! 1. Exception: Separation with complete property settlement: Agreement treated as a waiver. Treat as if spouse dead again. iv. Related Issue: Will divorce revoke a provision for spouse in T’s revocable trust? 1. UPC and Most States: Yes! Written out of both will and any provision for her revocable trust. i. Dependent Relative Revocation: i. If a bequest is destroyed by physical act, that bequest/gift is revoked. ii. A new gift (interlineation) will not be given effect unless: 1. T re-executes the will (make change, and sing with witnesses again), or 2. T-republishes with codicil (make change on will, then on separate sheet write out intent and sign with witnesses). iii. Should DRR be applied to reinstate the original?: DRR allows us to disregard a revocation which is based on, induced by, premised on a III. IV. mistake of law or fact if the court is satisfied that, but for the mistake, T never would have made the revocation (mistake remedy doctrine): 1. Disregard a revocation (cancellation of original gift) 2. Because it was based on a mistake of law (that new gift would be effective), 3. Provided the court thinks T would not have revoked the original gift but for the mistake. 4. Note: But for test is key here. Compares undoing revocation and not doing revocation. Looks at T’s intent. 5. Note: If amount is smaller (instead of giving 10k, new gift is let’s say 5K, court will leave gift receiver with nothing). j. Revival: Destroying second will (W2) with intent to revive first will (W1): i. Generally: W1 is revoked at execution of W2 (devises residuary estate). W2 not given legal effect until admitted to probate at T’s death. But exception if W2 expresses revocation of earlier wills. ii. Situation where W1 revoked by execution of W2, and W2 revoked by physical act with intent to revive W1. 1. Some States (Half): Only way to get W1 is re-execute or republish by codicil. 2. UPC and some other States (Half): More nuanced, not automatically. W1 revived if three tests are met: a. W1 still exists, b. Must show T wanted revival, and c. W2 must have been revoked by physical act. 3. In some states where W1 not revived, other issue raised is can we get W2 back using DRR? W2 revoked in mistake belief that W1 would be reinstated. Apply but for test. Incorporation by Reference: Facts of Independent Significance: a. To Incorporate an Extrinsic Document by Reference (used when the extrinsic document is not executed with will formalities): i. Writing must be in existence at time will was executed, ii. Will must manifest an intent to incorporate the document, and iii. Will must describe the writing sufficiently to permit its identification. 1. Note; where recognized, holographs can incorporate nonhandwritten material by reference. 2. Statutory Exception Found in UPC and Many Other States: Will may refer to written statement or list that disposes of tangible personal property (other than money) not specifically disposed of by the will. The written list must be signed by T and describe the property with reasonable certainty. Must be written before or after will executed; may be altered at any time. No money, no real estate, and no stocks/bonds. Must be tangible personal property. b. Doctrine of Independent Significance: Acts having an independent lifetime motive may impact on Will as well (such as getting new car, or new employees, etc…) Lapse, Ademption, Exoneration of Liens: (Most Tested): a. Lapse: i. When a beneficiary named in a will dies before (or in UPC states, within 120 hours/5 days of) the testator, the gift lapses. Lapse means the gift fails, drops to the residue, and passes as part of the residuary estate, unless saved by state’s anti-lapse statute. ii. The UPC statute applies when the predeceasing beneficiary is T’s grandparent, or a lineal descendant of a grandparent who leaves issue (lineal descendants) who survives T. iii. Lapse statute tells us who takes, not common law! So under will of predeceased beneficiary, beneficiaries will get other things from the predeceased, but will not get items from T’s will. iv. These statutes basically substitutes the beneficiary with descendants. v. Class Gift Rule: When there is a gift by will to a group of persons generically described as class (children, nephews, nieces, etc…) and some class member predeceases the T and the lapse statute does not apply, the surviving class members take. 1. If gift is to friend’s children, then only those children alive at time of T’s death take. 2. If gift is to brother’s children, then anti-lapse statute or UPC statute applies so that all children alive, and descendants of dead children take. vi. Residuary Estate: 1. UPC (Majority) Rule: If residuary estate is devised to two or more persons and the gift to one of them fails for any reason, the surviving residuary devises take the entire residuary estate in proportion to their interests in the residue, no lapse statutes here. b. Hypothetical Will Categories: i. Specific Devise or Bequest: Blackacre, 2007 Cadillac, to my son John. ii. Demonstrative Legacy (hybrid of general legacy. It is general legacy with funding specifications): Sum of 5K to be paid out of proceeds of sale of my acme stock, to my sister Sarah. iii. General Legacy: Sum of 10K to my daughter Donna. iv. Residuary Bequest: I give the rest, residue, and remainder of my property to my wife Agnes. v. Intestate Property (rare, but could happen): When there is a partial intestacy for some reason (all residuary beneficiaries predecease T, and case is not covered by anti-lapse statute). c. Ademption (Refers to failure of a gift because property is no longer in testator’s estate at time of death). i. Application: Only applies to specific devises and bequests. ii. Partial Ademption: May be partially adeemed where testator devises a large tract of land and then conveys a portion of the tract during life. Beneficiary takes remaining portion. iii. Does not apply to General or Demonstrative legacies: They will instead be satisfied by selling or directly giving other assets. To avoid ademption a court will attempt to construe a gift of securities as general legacy, unless T specifically stated, e.g., MY 200 shares of acme stock. iv. Issue of Abatement (Where T’s estate is partially insolvent): What order are gifts sacrificed to satisfy funeral expenses, expenses of administration, creditor’s claims?: We start at bottom of list above, v, and work our way up. v. Every one of the following provisions reverses the common law rule, which applied the doctrine of ademption to any case where the property specifically devised was not in the estate for any reason. At common law and in most states even today, T’s intent is deemed to be immaterial. Under the UPC, however, not only is T’s intent material, but several statutory provisions apply to avoid ademption in the following commonly recurring situations: 1. Will executed before T declared incompetent: If specifically devised property is sold by conservator, or if condemnation award or insurance proceeds relating to the property are paid to the conservator, the specific devisee has a right to a general legacy equal to the net sale price, condemnation award, or insurance proceeds unless testator’s disability has been adjudicated to have ceased and testator survives the adjudication by one year (was competent when wrote, but not anymore). If not incompetent, then go here: 2. Specific devisee has the right to the remaining specifically devised property and: a. Any balance of purchase price owing from purchaser when contract is still executory at T’s death. (At common law, equitable conversion would apply, and T would no longer own real property, but merely a claim to the remaining purchase price). b. Any amount of condemnation award for taking of property, to extent unpaid at death. c. Any amount of fire or casualty insurance proceeds unpaid at death. d. Any real or tangible personal property acquired as a replacement for their similar property. e. Property acquired as a result of a foreclosure of a security interest on specifically devised note. f. Note: Remember to ask if T is incompetent and died within 1 year from that adjudication of incompetency. Then look at whether T himself lived long enough to claim insurance proceeds, etc… 3. Additional Stock (BAR facts will tell you where they came from): a. Common Law: i. If Stock Splits: Get the additional stock. ii. If Stock Dividends: Only get the stocks left in the will. V. b. UPC: Doesn’t matter. A specific devisee takes any additional or other securities of same entity owned by T because of action initiated by entity, excluding any acquired by exercise of purchase option. (If T gave consideration for the extra shares, then those shares don’t count!) c. Merger of Companies: i. Common Law: Only get the stocks from original will company. ii. UPC: Specific devisee is entitled to securities of another entity owned by T as a result of merger, consolidation, reorganization, or other similar action initiated by entity. d. Where the word “my X shares” is used, it is specific devise and adeemed, even under UPC. If just X shares, then technically considered a gift for X amount of shares or value of X amount of shares, to be paid in kind by distributing. (Executor buys 200 shares with cash and gives to beneficiary). d. Exoneration of Liens: i. Basically a demand by beneficiary that executor pay off indebtedness (exonerate the lien) so title will pass to him free and clear of encumbrance. Is beneficiary entitled?: 1. Common Law (Minority): Yes 2. UPC (Majority): No. A specific devisee of encumbered property is not entitled to have the encumbrance paid out of the residuary estate unless the will shows such intent. Moreover, a general direction in the will to pay debts does not show such an intent! Ambiguities and Mistakes: a. Latent Ambiguity: Case where at time T executed will to nephew John Paul Jones, but he had two nephews James Peter Jones, and Paul Frederick Jones. T had never met nor corresponded with either nephew, and no nephew named John Paul Jones existed. Extrinsic evidence is admissible to clear up ambiguity. b. Suppose T had nephew John Paul Jones as above, but Paul Frederick Jones says there’s been a terrible mistake, T told me numerous times that he intended to and that he had left a legacy for me in will. Stenographer also says, I goofed. I have T’s note, etc… which clearly show legacy was supposed to go to Paul Frederick Jones. Admissible? i. Most States: No, evidence violates plain meaning rule! (Rule says can’t disturb plain meaning of will with extrinsic evidence). ii. UPC States: Yes. A court may reform terms of a will, even if unambiguous, to conform the terms to the testator’s intent if it is proved by C and C evidence that both the accomplishment of the T’s intent and the terms of the will were affected by a mistake of fact or law. In determining T’s original intent, court may consider relevant evidence even though evidence contradicts an apparent plain meaning of the will. VI. Inheritance (Common Intestacy Rules): a. Decedent Survived by Spouse: i. (Majority) If survived by spouse, but not by issue or parent, spouse gets everything. ii. (Majority) If survived by spouse and issue all of whom are also issue of spouse, spouse gets everything. iii. If survived by spouse and issue at least one of whom is not issue of other spouse, the spouse is commonly given a fixed amount off the top and a fraction of any excess. For ex: Under UPC, spouse takes first 100K and one half of any excess. (Ex: Have 3 kids, 2 kids with wife, 1 kid with another person). b. Share Not Going to Spouse (or all of estate if no spouse): i. All to issue, if any ii. If no issue, to parents or survivor (one parent) iii. If no issue or parents, to parents’ issue (bro/sis) c. Majority Rule: Issue Take Per Capita (equally) if all are of the same degree of relationship: Example: Widower has 4 kids=all 4 kids get ¼. Widower has 4 kids, and 2 of the kids have children (grandchildren). Then kids still get ¼ if children all alive. However, if only 2 children are alive, and the rest of the grandchildren are alive, then 2 children get ¼ still, but grandchildren get ¼ divided among each other down the line (so 2 grandchildren under dead child’s ¼ share would each get half, so 1/8, or if three grandchildren, then each ¼ share is divided amongst the 3 so 1/12). i. Most States: Per Capita with representation: We divide estate into shares. One for each line of descent as described above! ii. UPC and Modern Trend (Per Capita at each Generational Level): Begin same way as above, each line of descent gets shares. However, instead of giving ¼ between dead child 1’s children, and ¼ between dead child 2’s children, the shares of both dead children are combined, so 2/4 and divided among total grandchildren whose parent is dead (given as a pot). So 2 children, total of 5 grandchildren means that each grandchild will get 1/5 of 2/4. iii. If all children dead leaving only grandchildren, then: 1. UPC (Majority) Rule: Start at the grandchildren’s generation (number of grandchildren= number of shares. So 6 grandchildren, divided 1/6. Treated like new children, or new “lines.” 2. A Few States (Strict Per Stirpes): Make division at child level instead. However, no line for any children who don’t have kids! It is then split equally at each line of children who have kids themselves. So if 4 children, but only 3 of them have kids, the split is 1/3 to the children, and then it is further split evenly for grandchildren. d. Meaning of Probate Estate: i. The intestacy statute applies only to the probate estate. This is the estate that could have been controlled by a will had T executed one. It does not include life insurance, property held in trust, right of survivorship, securities or bank accounts registered in payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) form or property T did not own at death. e. Adoption, Remarriage, etc… i. In order to inherit from parent, must either be mother (always can inherit from her), or “father” marries mother, or adjudication of paternity before or after “father’s” death. ii. However, if “father” dies intestate, “child” cannot inherit unless adoption by estoppel (unperformed agreement to adopt). iii. Must be a legal or biological relationship to inherit. iv. If child is place for adoption, can inherit from adoptive parents and adoptive parents can inherit from adopted child. Here, child cannot inherit from biological mother since adoption severs relationship (some states still allow). v. Qualifications found in UPC and some other States: 1. Stepparent Adoption: Can still inherit from other parent, doesn’t terminate biological relationships. 2. Orphan Adoption: Both natural parents die and child is adopted by close family member, child continues to inherit from other family members. vi. Related Issue: Adopted persons are included in class gift terminology and terms of relationship in accordance with rules for determining relationships for purposes of intestate succession. f. Simultaneous Death Act (Enacted in Most States): When passage of title to property depends on priority of death and there is insufficient evidence that the persons have died otherwise than simultaneously, absent a will provision to the contrary, the property of each passes as though he survived (T and beneficiary die together): i. Wills: As though T survived, as though beneficiary predeceased. ii. Intestacy: As though intestate survived and heir predeceased. iii. Insurance: As though insured survived, as though beneficiary predeceased. iv. Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship: One half as though tenant A survived, one half as though tenant B survived. The point: simultaneous death prevents operation of right of survivorship, so one half passes through each tenant’s estate (treat like tenancy in common). v. Common Law: If there is any evidence that shows beneficiary survived, even for a second, then beneficiary will be counted as an heir. vi. UPC and some other states: 120 Hour Rule: When passage to property depends on priority of death, absent a provision in the governing instrument to the contrary, a person is deemed to have predeceased the decedent unless the person survives the decedent by 120 hours/5days. vii. If will says “if she survives me by 2 days” for example, that is enforceable! This also applies to nonprobate assets like life insurance and right of survivorship, etc… g. Lifetime Gifts: i. Common Law (Minority) Rule: Any lifetime gift to a child or descendants (including adopted) is presumed to be an advancement (that is, advance VII. payment) of his intestate share, to be taken into account in distribution of the intestate’s estate. ii. UPC (Majority) Rule: No advancement unless: 1. Declared as such in contemporaneous writing by decedent, or 2. Acknowledged as such in writing by the heir. iii. If it were an advancement, the advancement is brought/counted (hypothetically) into the hotchpot (current value doesn’t matter, just what it was worth when gifted), it is divided equally among heirs. So if 3 heirs, and one of the heirs gifted 12K, and total estate is 78K, then add so total is actually 90K, divide by 3, so each gets 30K, however, deduct gift from amount for the gifted person and she will get 18K because already have 12K, and the others get 30K. iv. Doctrine of advancement applies to intestate estates. A companion doctrine called Satisfaction applies to testate estates (when there actually was a will: 1. UPC (Majority) Rule: A lifetime gift is not prepayment of any interest under a will unless: a. The will provides for this treatment, b. The testator declares in contemporaneous writing that gift is to be deducted from the devise or in satisfaction of the devise, or c. The devisee acknowledges in writing that the gift is in satisfaction. Rights of Surviving Spouse: If facts of question involve husband and wife situation and you are asked to discuss the rights of the surviving spouse to share in the decedent’s estate, you will want to consider discussing: a. A surviving spouse’s right to homestead, exempt property and family allowance: In most states, statues give a surviving spouse, one or more of the following: i. Homestead: The right live in the home for as long as the spouse chooses. (Under UPC, spouse gets 15K cash allowance in lieu of homestead). ii. Exempt Property: Household furniture, automobile, furnishings, appliances, personal effects (and other property to extent preceding does not equal allowance) in a fixed amount (e.g., 10K) iii. Family Allowance: Reasonable allowance in money out of estate for maintenance of family during administration. iv. Typically these benefits are available in both testate and intestate estates. They are in addition to intestate shares but are chargeable against share passing under will unless will provides otherwise. They may be waived by written agreement after full disclosure. b. Was will written before marriage? (Pretermitted Spouse: Case of the Premarital Will): In most states, marriage after a will has no effect on the will. But under the UPC and in a few other states, the effect of marriage following execution of will is that the Pretermitted Spouse: may claim an intestate share that is what spouse would’ve been entitled had there been no will. Unless: i. It appears from the will that omission was intentional VIII. ii. T made other provision for spouse by transfer outside will and intent that the transfer be in lieu of provision in will is shown by statements of testator, the amount of the transfer, or other evidence. c. Should the spouse claim an elective share of the “Elective Estate?”: i. In all states, the elective estate includes the net testamentary estate and spouse can choose to take in place of will. This is the probate less exempt property, family allowance, funeral expenses, expenses of administration and allowable creditors’ claims. In UPC and some other states, the elective estate also includes: 1. Transfers with retained power to revoke, consume, invade, or dispose of principal for his own benefit (revocable trust) 2. Transfers with retained right to possess or enjoy the income from the property (transfer with retained life estate) 3. Transfers held by decedent and another in right of survivorship form (JTWROS, joint bank accounts) 4. Transfers within 2 years of death to extent aggregate transfers to any one done in either year exceeded the gift tax annual exclusion (currently 14K). ii. Elective share is a fraction (commonly 1/3) of the elective estate but interests received by spouse which are included (in the case will leaves something for wife) in the elective estate are treated as if in satisfaction of elective share. 1. UPC: Maximum elective share is increased to ½ but the share a spouse actually gets depends on the duration of marriage. In effect, the elective share vests at a rate of about 3% a year until it reaches a maximum of 50% (after 15 years). iii. Other Important Points: 1. Elective share is in addition to exempt property, family allowance, and homestead (or allowance in lieu of homestead). 2. It may be waived by written contract after full disclosure. 3. To claim, surviving spouse must file election within a set period (e.g., 6 months) of decedent’s death. Pretermitted Children and Children Thought to be Dead: a. A pretermitted child is a child born or adopted after will executed, and in UPC and some other states is entitled to take intestate share unless: i. It appears from will that omission was intentional, ii. T left substantially all of his estate to the parent of the pretermitted child (if non-T parent dies before child, disregard this part, child will most likely get something in that case if the other requirements are met), or iii. T provided for child by transfer outside will and intended transfer be in lieu of provision in will. Amount of outside transfer irrelevant; extrinsic evidence including T’s oral statements admissible to show intent. iv. Note: If there is a codicil or new will after birth of child and child is not mentioned, then child will likely get nothing! b. Child Thought Dead: IX. X. XI. i. Common Law: No relief for mistake in inducement to make or not make provision in will unless both mistake and what would have been done but for mistake appear in terms of the will (“I leave nothing for Doughboy, because he’s dead, but in case he’s not dead, I would’ve left him X”). ii. Statute found in UPC and Many States: If at time of execution of will, T fails to provide in her will for a living child solely because she believes child dead, child is treated as pretermitted (may claim intestate share). Conduct Barring Party From Sharing in the Estate—Homicide: a. In UPC and most states, a person who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent is not entitled to any benefit from decedent’s estate by will, by intestacy (including family allowance, exempt property, and homestead), under life insurance contract or otherwise. Property passes as if killer predeceased decedent (half to victim’s estate). Jointly held property with right of survivorship passes half to killer and half as if killer predeceased decedent (lapse issue possibly). Not triggered by involuntary, negligent, etc… Acquittal of criminal charge is not controlling (civil law so preponderance of the evidence). Renunciation: a. Before acceptance, an heir, devisee, or appointee of power of appointment may renounce his interest in writing in whole or in party within nine months after the death of decedent. Renunciation results in property passing as if renouncing party predeceased decedent, unless will provides otherwise. Advance Healthcare Directives: a. Living Will: i. A living will is a statement of an adult individual’s desires with respect to life-sustaining procedures, artificial nutrition or hydration, and pain alleviating treatment when the individual becomes terminally ill or is in a persistent vegetative state. ii. Execution: In writing, signed by an adult T or by another at his direction. Although the Uniform Healthcare Decisions Act does not require witnesses, most states do. The usual requirement is that there be two adult witnesses. iii. Revocation: By any manifestation of intent to revoke (including by physical act) at any time before death without regard to principal’s mental or physical condition. b. Durable Healthcare Power: i. Durable healthcare power is used by one person (principal) to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions for the principal such as giving consent to medical treatment, accessing principal’s medical records, and admitting or discharging principal from a healthcare facility. The instrument does not become operative until the principal loses capacity. ii. Eligibility to Serve as an Agent: Any person except an unrelated person who is associated with the principal’s healthcare facility. iii. Execution: Same as for living will. That is, in writing, signed by and adult principal or by another at his discretion, and by two adult witnesses. In most states the agent may not serve as a witness. XII. iv. Revocation: Unless otherwise stated in the power, by written or oral notice of revocation to either the agent or principal’s healthcare provider. Also, a durable healthcare power is automatically revoked by the execution of a later durable healthcare power. v. Liability: An agent under a durable healthcare power is not civilly or criminally liable or subject to discipline for unprofessional conduct for healthcare decisions made in good faith. Administration of Estate (Rarely appear in Wills questions but show up on Trusts questions (administration of trusts)): Few points to keep in mind: a. Probate of Will: i. A will is not effective unless it is admitted to probate. Statutes in most states impose civil liability on anyone who fails to deliver a decedent’s will to the court. b. Appointment of Personal Representative: i. The person who administers the estate is called a personal representative (PR). Some states refer to this person as an executor if the decedent nominated the person in his or her will and an administrator if the decedent died intestate. (Can never go wrong using PR if can’t remember others). ii. PR entitled to compensation for services, rate may be governed by statute otherwise court has discretion to award reasonably. Also T may provide compensation for PR by means of gift in will. c. Priority of Appointment: i. If there is a will, priority goes first to the person nominated in the will, then typically to the surviving spouse unless disinherited in the will, then to other will beneficiaries (or heirs if there is no will). d. Bond Requirement: i. Unless waived in decedent’s will, a PR (other than a bank) must post a bond. e. Power to Sell Property: i. In absence of an explicit authority in the will, PR must usually get a court order to sell real property (usually done in cases of abatement to pay creditors). f. Inventory Requirement: i. The PR must file an inventory of all assets of estate. The inventory must include the value of the property. g. Publication of Notice to Creditors: i. PR must publish notice of administration in the legal notices section of the newspaper (must send notice of admin to hospital even if died there. Stupid rule, but have to nonetheless). In addition, the PR must send actual notice of administration to all known or reasonably discoverable creditors. This starts a short (typically 3 or 4 months) SOL. Exception for secured creditors. ii. Claims generally paid in following order: 1. Administration expenses 2. Funeral expenses and expenses of last illness XIII. 3. Family allowance 4. Debts given preference under federal law 5. Secured claims 6. Judgments entered against decedent during his lifetime, and 7. All other claims. h. Abatement: i. Process of reducing testamentary gifts in cases where the estate assets not sufficient to pay all claims against the estate and satisfy all bequests and devises. T can set out order of abatement in will, but if not present, then follow abatement order mentioned earlier in outline. Will Contests: a. Standing: Any person who would take more as heir if there were no will or as beneficiary under a prior will. b. Lack of Testamentary Capacity: Burden of Proof on Contestants: i. Must be 18 as of date of execution (any will executed before 18 invalid! Don’t fall for old guy who made will when under 18=no will). c. Mental Capacity: The Test: i. Did T understand the nature of the act he was doing?, ii. Did T know the nature and character/extent of his property?, iii. Did T know who are the natural objects of his bounty?, And iv. Did T understand the disposition he wished to make? 1. Capacity is determined at time of wills execution. 2. Fact that T was old, ill, possessed a failing memory, or was a drinker/drug addict does not mean lacked testamentary capacity. 3. Even adjudication of insanity or appointment of guardian or conservator is evidence of T’s lack of capacity but is not conclusive. d. Insane Delusion: Distinctive form of testamentary incapacity: Where T is otherwise sane, but the will (or gift in the will) is a product of an insane delusion, having no basis in fact or reason, which T adheres to against all reason and evidence, and where the will (or gift in will) is product of the insane delusion. (Basically, did delusion cause gift in will?) e. Undue Influence: Burden of Proof on Contestants, who must show: i. Existence and exertion of influence ii. Effect is to overpower the mind and will of testator iii. The result is a will that would not have been executed but for the influence. iv. Note: Influence is not undue unless the free agency of the testator was destroyed and a will produced that expresses the will, not of the testator but of the one exerting the influence. v. Note: While evidence of undue influence is usually circumstantial, these alone are not enough: 1. Mere opportunity to exert influence 2. Mere susceptibility to influence due to illness, age. Such evidence does not (by itself) establish that T’s mind was in fact subverted and overpowered. 3. Mere fact of unnatural disposition—that some children take less than others or are excluded entirely. It is only where all reasonable explanation for devise is lacking that the trier of facts may take this circumstance as a badge of under influence. vi. Undue influence may be shown as to entire will or as to one gift. vii. In most states, a presumption arises upon a showing that a principal beneficiary under the will who stands in a confidential relationship to the T (attorney-client, priest-parishioner, doctor-patient) draws or procures the execution of the will. viii. Suspicious circumstances may also tend to show under influence. (Random stranger insinuates himself with T, when t, because of mental or physical condition or age is susceptible to influence, and T then writes will that disinherits children). f. No Contest Clauses: i. Under UPC and most states, a clause in a will providing that beneficiary forfeits her interest in the estate if she contests the will is valid and will be enforced unless the beneficiary had probable cause for brining contest. Suits objecting to court’s jurisdiction, challenging the appointment of executor, and asking court to construe will are not will contests for purpose of these clauses. g. Fraud: i. A successful grounds of fraud requires that testator have been willfully deceived as to: 1. Character or content of the instrument 2. Extrinsic facts that would indicate the will or a particular disposition, or 3. Facts material to disposition. 4. Note: If T is fraudulently prevented from making a will, some courts will impose constructive trust against intestate beneficiaries in favor of those who could have taken had the will been made. h. Mistake: i. Mistake in execution: 1. Extrinsic evidence admissible to show T did not know that instrument he was signing was a will, because the existence of testamentary intent is at issue. ii. Mistake in Inducement—No Relief: 1. If mistake involves the reasons a T made his will a particular way and the mistake was not fraudulently induced, the court will not normally grant relief. Relief might be granted, however, if mistaken inducement appears on face of will. iii. Mistake as to Contents of Will—Extrinsic Evidence Not Admissible: 1. Extrinsic evidence not admissible to show that provision was omitted or is incorrect. iv. Ambiguity—Extrinsic Evidence Admissible: 1. Latent ambiguity arises if a will’s language is clear on its face but results in a mis-description as applied, a patent ambiguity exists if uncertainty appears on face of will. Extrinsic evidence is admissible to cure latent ambiguities because it does not have effect of rewriting will. Under traditional and majority view, extrinsic evidence not admissible to cure patent ambiguities, but modern, better view would admit it. v. Reformation for Mistake Under UPC: 1. Under UPC, court may reform a will, even if will is unambiguous, to conform to T’s intent if it is proven by C and C evidence that T’s intent and terms of will were affected by mistake of fact or law. This includes mistakes involving both the expression of terms and inducement to make the will or any of its provision. i. Remember: Defective Execution of Will (missing one or more requirements, etc…), and Valid Revocation are also will contests!