Law School Case Brief
Wilson v. Lane - 279 Ga. 492, 614 S.E.2d 88 (2005)
The law does not withhold from the aged, the feeble, the weak-minded, the capricious, the notionate, the right to make a will, provided such person has a decided and rationale desire as to the disposition of his property. Although perhaps persuasive to a jury, eccentric habits and absurd beliefs do not establish testamentary incapacity. All that is required to sustain the will is proof that the testator or testatrix was capable of forming a certain rational desire with respect to the disposition of his or her assets. Under O.C.G.A. § 53-4-11(d), eccentricity of habit or thought does not deprive a person of the power to make a will.
After executrix Katherine Lane offered testatrix's Jewel Jones Greer's 1997 last will and testament for probate, Floyd Wilson filed a caveat, challenging Greer's testamentary capacity. Greer signed the will in question three years before her death. At trial, the attorney who drafted her will testified that, in his opinion, that Greer was mentally competent at the time that the will was signed and that she emphatically selected all 17 beneficiaries. However, the caveators challenged Greer's capacity by showing that she was eccentric, aged, and peculiar in the last years of her life. The Jasper County Superior Court jury found that Greer lacked testamentary capacity at the time she executed her will. Nevertheless, the trial court granted the executrix's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict because it found that there was no evidence to show that Greer lacked testamentary capacity. Wilson appealed.
Did the trial court err in probating the will?
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The court found that the trial court was correct to reverse the jury's verdict because the evidence showed that the testatrix had testamentary capacity, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 53-2-21(b), in that she was able to form a rational desire regarding the disposition of her property. The court noted that no testimony was offered to establish that, at the time that the will was executed, the testatrix suffered from a form of dementia sufficient in form or extent to render her unable to form a decided and rational desire regarding the disposition of the assets.
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