Connecticut Appellate Court finds that Incorrect Standard was applied for Testamentary Capacity to make a Will

Connecticut Appellate Court finds that Incorrect Standard was applied for Testamentary Capacity to make a Will
Deroy v. Estate of Baron, 136 Conn. App. 123, 43 A.2d 759 (2012)   

In a case involving testamentary capacity, Defendant Jeanne Baron appealed from the judgments of the Superior Court denying the admission of a will executed by her mother, Edith Baron, because of lack of capacity.  The Probate Court originally received two documents purporting to be the decedent’s will, one executed on February 12, 2002 and the other on July 3, 2002.   The will executed on July 3, 2002 was admitted by the Probate Court.  On appeal, the Superior Court concluded that Edith Baron was “incompetent” when she executed the will on July 3, 2002.

In reviewing the Superior Court decision, the Appellate Court found that the incorrect standard was applied for testamentary capacity.  The standard does not require the testator to be able to understand “complex” financial transactions.  Rather, the mental capacity necessary to make a will under Connecticut law is a lower standard.  An individual may have the capacity to make a will even if they are generally incapable of business transactions.

“To make a valid will, the testatrix must have had mind and memory sound enough to know and understand the business upon which she was engaged, that of the execution of a will, at the very time she executed it.” (Internal quotation marks omitted)  Sanzo’s Appeal from Probate, 133 Conn. App. 42, 50, 35 A. 3d 203 (2012); see also Atchison v. Lewis, 131 Conn. 218, 219-20, 38 A.2d 673 (1944).  The Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the Superior Court and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Should you have any questions relating to wills, trusts, estates or probate issues generally, please feel free to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, managing partner in the firm’s Westport, Connecticut office in Fairfield County by telephone at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at jmaya@mayalaw.com.