No. 1913 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Philadelphia County, No. 1477 of 1977.
Lawrence Barth, Deputy Attorney General, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, participating party.
Carol Suzanne Buechner, Herman Bloom and Mervin J. Hartman, Philadelphia, for Ocks and Levin, participating parties.
Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish & Kauffman, Harry A. Kalish, John M. Elliott (argued), Joseph P. Dougher, Philadelphia, for Weizman Institute of Science, Inc.
Kohn, Savett, Marion & Graf, P.C., Harold E. Kohn (argued), Bayard M. Graf, Philadelphia, for appellants Philadelphia Geriatric Center and American Committee of Weizman Instit. of Science, Inc.
Wickersham, Cirillo and Lipez, JJ.
[ 314 Pa. Super. Page 483]
In this will contest, the American Committee for the Weizman Institute of Science, Inc. (Weizman) and the Philadelphia Geriatric Center (Geriatric) appeal from the decision of the Orphans' Court en banc, affirming the decree of the hearing judge which upheld the admission to probate of a writing dated September 8, 1976, as the last will and testament of Alexander Younger.*fn1 Contestants Weizman and Geriatric contend that the court erred in upholding the probate of this writing because it was the product of undue influence exerted upon the testator by two of the will's
[ 314 Pa. Super. Page 484]
beneficiaries: testator's attorney, Herbert L. Ocks; and Mark Levin, manager of testator's business property.
The probate will (Will No. 5) was executed on September 8, 1976, in the office of proponent Ocks, who was also the will's scrivener. It was witnessed by Ocks and his secretary, Jacqueline Belletieri. The will gave $10,000.00 to each of the testator's three nieces and two nephews (his only surviving relatives), $20,000.00 to his secretary, $10,000.00 to a former employee, $5,000.00 to a friend, $50,000.00 to his "friend and attorney" Herbert L. Ocks, $25,000.00 to his "friend and faithful employee" Mark Levin, and $100,000.00 to his "friend and long-time companion" Mauro Dominquez. The residue of the $1,100.000.00 estate was given 40% to Dominquez, 40% to Ocks and 20% to Levin. Testator's friend Caswell F. Holloway was named executor and the testator appointed proponent Ocks as attorney for the executor.*fn2
Testator had previously executed four other wills: Will No. 1, dated December 11, 1972; Will No. 2, dated December 17, 1973; Will No. 3, dated January 19, 1976; and Will No. 4, dated September 1, 1976. Proponent Ocks was the scrivener of all but Will No. 1.
Will No. 1 gave $5,000.00 to each of the testator's nieces and nephews; $10,000.00 to his secretary; $5,000.00 to his housekeeper; and $30,000.00 to Mauro Dominquez. The residue was given in trust for the benefit of the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. The First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Company was appointed executor, and the will was executed in a conference room of the bank. The witnesses were a trust officer of the bank and William J. MacDermott, Esquire, the will's scrivener.
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In Will No. 2, drawn by Ocks, the testator gave $10,000.00 to each of his nieces and nephews; $10,000.00 to his secretary; $5,000.00 to his housekeeper; $5,000.00 each to three friends; the greater of 10% of the net value of the estate or $100,000.00 to Mauro Dominquez, and also provided for payments of $1,000.00 a month to be made to Dominquez by the executor during the period between testator's death and the distribution of the estate. The residue was given in trust to the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, with Caswell F. Holloway, Mark Levin and Herbert L. ...