The Arkansas blogosphere is abuzz over the colourful facts of Heirs of F.D. Goza, Jr., et al. v. Estate of William E. Potts, Deceased, a decision of the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Relatives of the testator tried to propound a photocopy of his Last Will, arguing that he lacked testamentary capacity and was under insane delusions when he destroyed the original. The Appelate Court affirmed the decision of the trial judge that the deceased validly revoked his Will and died intestate.
The evidence of revocation was overwhelming: The testator wrote such phrases as “void”, "bastards" and "get nothing" over each paragraph, applied Liquid Paper over the names of the beneficiaries, and later shredded the document in front of his insurance agent. The Court held that ”the evidence clearly showed that [the testator] was an irascible, angry, suspicious, controlling, profane, and difficult man for most of his adult life; however, we cannot say that the trial court erred in refusing to find that he labored under insane delusions.”
The remarkable aspect of this case is the fact that there was a credible and disinterested witness to the shredding of the original Will. This fact certainly bolsters the presumption of destruction that exists in Ontario when the original Will can not be located on the death of a testator.
David M. Smith
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