Tom, who was near death in a hospital bed, had his only son, Allan (who was adopted by Tom) bring to his hospital his last known will. Allan hands Tom the will. Tom takes a lighter and ignites the flame, as he holds the will in his one hand. At that moment, Tom dies and the will falls to the floor, with no fire or burn damage to it. Tom’s property has a value of $1 million dollars and consists of:
1) a house (Allan is currently living there) the deed is in the name of Tom and Allan as joint tenants;
2) an antique Mercedes that is owned and registered in Tom’s name, but that he has told people he wants Allan to have and which Allan, not Tom, has been driving for two years; and
3) cash/bank accounts joint owners.
Allan claims that in the week before Tom died he, Tom, had said he didn’t want his wife to get any of his money or assets when he died. Tom met his current wife, Wilma, one month before he died. Tom married Wilma two weeks before he died. Tom executed his will the day he got married, while he was at the church where they got married and the will left all of Tom’s estate to Wilma. Allan decided that he would challenge the will. Allan spoke to the minister who married Tom and Wilma, who said that on the day he married them, there was a strong smell of alcohol on Tom’s breath and Tom was slightly slurring his words during his wedding vows but that he would not have married them if he thought Tom was intoxicated. The minister did not think Tom was intoxicated. The minister also told Allan that he heard Tom say to Wilma that he would change the beneficiary on his life insurance policy so that she, and not Allan, would collect the $500,000 in life insurance. Wilma lived with Tom and provided care for him for the two weeks after the wedding, when Tom died.
Tom never got around to changing the beneficiary on his life insurance, and so at the time of his death, Allan was the sole beneficiary on the life insurance policy. Wilma now seeks to have the court probate the will and have the estate, including the house, given to her. Wilma wants the court to award her the insurance policy proceeds. Allan seeks to invalidate the will in which he receives no inheritance, and to award him the insurance policy proceeds.
What will Wilma argue? What will Allan argue? How will the court rule? Provide justification for your decision.
Issue: State the legal issue(s) to be discussed.
Rule: State the relevant statutes and case law.
Application: Apply the relevant rules to the facts that created the issue.
Conclusion: State the most likely conclusions using the logic of the application section. Don’t forget to include any alternative outcomes created by ambiguities in the relevant facts and rules.