Wednesday, July 23, 2014
On Tuesday, a Sacramento Superior Court judge refused to validate a will that a lawyer claimed to be the last wishes of a dying friend. The will would have given all but a small portion of Joseph Herb O’Brien’s estate to a mutual friend.
Judge Christopher Krueger said the will filed on behalf of local veterinarian Kenneth Pawlowski did not meet the standard of “clear and convincing evidence” that O’Brien was of a sound mental state when he signed his testament. “Indeed, the evidence points to the conclusion that Mr. O’Brien was extremely weak and actually in the process of dying,” Krueger wrote. The judge said there was significant evidence that O’Brien wanted to modify the will that he had left in a trust that provided for a stepson with drug problems. However, the judge expressed there was a “very significant doubt on Mr. O’Brien’s capacity at the time of execution.”
Although no one exercised undue influence upon Mr. O’Brien, the proponent of the will was unable to show that the will in this case was intended by the decedent to be his will at the time he put his mark on it.
See Andy Furillo, Sacramento Judge Rejects Dying Man’s Last-Minute Will, The Sacramento Bee, July 23, 2014.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.