By Amanda L. MacGee, J.D. of Burns & Levinson LLP
In Estate of Weaver (Case 15-P-714) (March 2, 2016), three siblings appealed an order of the Probate and Family Court. The Weaver siblings were children of the decedent’s first marriage. During the decedent’s second marriage he and his wife executed reciprocal Wills, leaving their estates to each other, with the decedent’s step-daughter as the alternate recipient. In challenging the Will, the siblings claim undue influence as well as alcohol and drug use by the decedent and his second wife as factors. Decedent’s second wife predeceased him and he did not change his Will prior to his death leaving his entire estate to his step-daughter on his death.
The Appeals Court affirmed the decision of the Probate and Family Court, striking the decedent’s children’s affidavits of objection to his Will. The court found that had his Will been influenced by his deceased wife and estranged step-daughter, enough time had passed in which he could have changed his Will if he so desired.
Regarding the accusations of drug and alcohol abuse, the Appeals Court found there was no evidence that the decedent was under the influence when he executed his Will or the he did not understand its contents. The Appeals Court further found the decedent was in contact with his children after his wife’s death, and that he was aware of the terms of his Will. The court found “ample opportunity” to update his Will, if he so desired.