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PETERMAN WILL (05/21/51)

May 21, 1951

PETERMAN WILL


Appeals, Nos. 68, 69 and 70, March T., 1951, from decree of Orphans' Court of Beaver County, Dec. T., 1949, No. 16, in Estate of William Peterman, Sr., Deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Rieser, for appellants.

J. Quint Salmon, with him Hartford & Prather, John B. Prather and Wilson & Salmon, for appellees.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 367 Pa. Page 303]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

The three appeals, in a will contest, are from a decree of the Orphans' Court of Beaver County denying a petition for an issue devisavit vel non on the ground that no substantial dispute upon a material matter of fact was shown to exist.

William Peterman, Sr., aged 79, died January 24, 1949. He left surviving as his only heirs three adult children and four grandchildren, issue of a deceased son. His estate consisted of the modest house in which he resided, an automobile, an interest in household furniture and some cash. His deceased son, William, Jr., had been his partner in a painting business. The son's widow, Regina Peterman (proponent) and her four children, had resided with decedent for 12 years prior to decedent's death. Decedent's three adult children lived elsewhere.

The probated testamentary writing is dated January 17, 1949. It was purported to have been signed by decedent

[ 367 Pa. Page 304]

    and is witnessed by two subscribing witnesses. One witness is a niece, the scrivener, and the other witness is a tenant who occupied an apartment over decedent's garage. The dispositive provisions of the will to the daughter-in-law, Regina Peterman (proponent), consist of a specific devise of decedent's real estate (his home) and specific bequests of his automobile and interest in household furniture. He assigned as the reason for such testamentary provisions: "[Regina] has been like a daughter to me and has nursed me through my sickness...." It is also provided in the will that if any cash remained after payment of debts two named children should each receive $100. He stated that he had "taken care of" the remaining named son (who had been ill.) He named his niece, the scrivener, executrix.

The three children join in the will contest alleging (a) testamentary incapacity (b) undue influence and (c) forgery. They prayed for the grant of an issue devisavit vel non. An extended hearing was held before President Judge McCREARY who, in a well considered opinion, analyzed the evidence and accurately stated the applicable principles of law. An issue was denied. The appeals followed.

The allegations of testamentary incapacity and undue influence are so devoid of substance that they do not even merit discussion. The ...


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