The Million Dollar Will contest case. The usual suspects were nowhere to be found.  No undue influence issue.  No lack of mental capacity issue.  This case was unique.

The surviving spouse was referred to my office following her husband’s death.  The children of the decedent objected to the Will that the spouse offered to the probate court.  The children alleged that the surviving spouse fraudulently substituted the original page one of the Will for a bogus one.  There was a ton of money at stake and it rested on the staple at the top corner of the Will.  The case was coined The Million Dollar Will.

The typical theories upon which to contest the admissibility of a Will include undue influence and lack of mental capacity.  These are the staple of most will contest cases.  However, there are other theories upon which to contest the admissibility.  In this case, the children alleged fraud.  The children alleged that the Will was stapled at the time of execution.  Following the execution, the children alleged that the spouse removed the first page and substituted it with a page that looked the same but had key differences.  To accomplish this, the spouse would have had to remove the staple before swapping page one for another one.  The children alleged that the removed page provided a gift to them but the substituted page did not include that gift.

Most estate planning attorneys require that the Will signor to initial the bottom of every page and then sign the last page.  There were no initials on the Million Dollar Will, just a signature on the last page of the document.

In preparation of trial, The Probate Pro retained an expert on staples!  The expert issued an opinion that the staple at the corner of the Will was the original staple and had not been tampered with. After two days of testimony from the family and the expert, The Probate Pro obtained a verdict in favor of the surviving spouse.  Justice was served and the Million Dollar Will was admitted to probate.