Barnes v. Marshall

467 S.W.2d 70 (Mo. 1971)

 

RULE:

Evidence, not too remote, of mental unsoundness either before or after the will's execution is admissible, provided it indicates that such unsoundness existed at the time the will was made.

FACTS:

The testator's daughter sought to contest a will and two codicils executed by her father a short time before his death. Defendants were the alleged beneficiaries of the alleged will. The petition charged that testator was not of sound mind and did not have the mental capacity to make a will. The trial court held that the paper writings were not the last will and that the testator was of unsound mind. Defendants appealed.

ISSUE:

Whether the testimony of medical and lay witnesses presented sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find that testator was of unsound mind?

ANSWER:

Yes. The court held that the facts went far beyond a mere showing of peculiarities and eccentricities.

CONCLUSION:

The court affirmed and held that an opinion that a person is of unsound mind is based upon abnormal or unnatural acts and conduct of such person, while an opinion of soundness of mind is founded upon the absence of such acts and conduct.

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