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Law School Case Brief

In re Pavlinko Will - 394 Pa. 564, 148 A.2d 528 (1959)


It may happen, even frequently, that genuine wills, namely, wills truly expressing the intentions of the testators, are made without observations of the required forms; and whenever that happens, the genuine intention is frustrated by the act of the legislature, of which the general object is to give effect to the intention. The courts must consider that the legislature, having regard to all probable circumstances, has thought it best, and has therefore determined, to run the risk of frustrating the intention sometimes, in preference to the risk of giving effect to or facilitating the formation of spurious wills, by the absence of forms. 


An attorney drafted wills for the decedent and his late wife, but by mistake, decedent executed his wife's will and the wife executed the decedent's will. The wife's document was not offered for probate on her death but the brother-in-law offered the will mistakenly executed by the decedent for probate after his death. The register of wills refused to accept and probate the will of the decedent for failure to comply with the requirements of the Wills Act of 1947. On appeal, the trial court affirmed the decision. The brother-in-law challenged the decision.


Should the court probate a will mistakenly executed by the decedent?




The court affirmed the decision that refused to admit to probate a will offered by the brother-in-law that was mistakenly executed by the decedent. The Court determined that the document that the deceased signed was actually his late wife's will and the language would have had to have been rewritten in order to be meaningful. Additionally, section 2 of the Wills Act of 1947 required that every testamentary document had to be signed at the end by the testator. Thus, the document that was actually the decedent's will could not have been offered for probate because he had not executed it. The Wills Act was required to be strictly construed in order to effectuate its intent.

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