2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A battle of wills - testamentary capacity and holographic wills

In Maronda v. Colliton, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench was faced with deciding which of a competing set of wills executed by the late Elsie Colliton would be submitted for probate.  One one side of the case was one daughter of Elsie; on the other, the other daughter and son of Elsie. 

Mrs. Elsie Colliton executed a holograph (handwritten) will on May 21, 2006. In that will, she left her remaining farm lands to her son Patrick Colliton, $15,000.00 each to Patrick’s children, $50,000.00 to her daughter Irene Colliton, and the residue to her daughter Karen Maronda.  Elsie died on August 15, 2006 without having executed another will. Pat and Irene alleged that the May 21 will was made while Elsie lacked the necessary testamentary capacity. Alternatively, they argued that Elsie was unduly and improperly influenced by Karen Maronda. They sought an order declaring the May 21 will to be invalid and requested that an earlier will dated December 20, 2005 be submitted for probate. That would give the farm land to Pat and divide the residue equally among Pat, Irene and Karen.
In the end, the judge determined that the last will executed on May 21, 2006 was valid and that Mrs. Colliton had the necessary capacity to execute it.  Of the conflict between the sibilings, the judge noted:
It is sad that Irene Colliton blames her sister for “poisoning her well”. It is sad that her brother has turned against her, not because of what his mother did, but because Karen Maronda would not destroy her mother’s last will and testament, because he did not like it or think that it was fair. There is no evidence whatsoever that Karen Maronda attempted to influence her mother’s disposition of her estate, other than to benefit to a small extent, Pat’s children. There is nothing but an ugly suspicion based upon feelings for which there is no foundation.
Read the decision at: Maronda v. Colliton.