Holly Parr

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Case Synopsis

After a father died, his will went missing. His son believed that his father’s estate should go to him, while St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital believed that the estate should go to it. The father executed a will in June, leaving his estate to St. Jude. Then in October, the father executed a new will, with the only change from the June will being a change in the executor. After the father died, the October will went missing. However, an accurate copy of the October will existed. St. Jude attempted to probate the missing October will by presenting the copy of the October will and two witnesses who testified to the lost will’s contents. However, one of the witnesses only testified to the father’s signature on the will and the will’s execution but could not recall the contents of the lost will. The son argued that the lost October will was not in existence when the father died, claiming that the father destroyed it before his death. The Court ruled that a lost will needs to be only in legal existence at the time of the testator’s death. The Court also ruled that when an accurate copy of the lost will exists, that one of the two witnesses needs to only testify to the will’s execution, but not the contents of the will. Therefore, the Court held that the father’s will was in legal existence at the time of his death and that the two witnesses adequately testified to the lost will, even though one of them testified only to the will’s execution.