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Thompson v. Gammon (In re Estate of Beal) - 1989 OK 23, 769 P.2d 150

Rule:

A will or part of a will procured to be made by duress, menace, fraud or undue influence, may be denied probate.

Facts:

Appellant Odesa Thompson moved in with Poley Beal, now deceased, a month after meeting him. She was 58 and had little income. He was 76, had social security income, his own home, and 160 acres of land. He was alone, in frail health, and unable to care for himself. She cared for him for eight years until he died. Two years before Beal died, Thompson drove him to a lawyer's office where he executed a will leaving all to Thompson. Five days before his death, while in the hospital, Beal told his cousin Troy Gammon, who was a courthouse official, to prepare a will leaving all to Gammon. The second will was duly executed. When Thompson presented the first will for probate, the lower court refused to admit it, finding that decedent had decided in his own mind that he had been the victim of undue influence by Thompson. Thompson challenged the decision of the lower court.

Issue:

Should the prior will executed by the decedent, leaving all his assets and properties to Thompson, be admitted for probate? 

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court found that the second will did not operate to revoke the first because decedent had not complied with the revocation procedures of Okla. Stat. tit. 84, § 101 (1981). However, the Court agreed that the first will could not stand, holding that a presumption of undue influence arose when there was a confidential relationship coupled with active participation in preparing the will.

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