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ESTATE AGNES JAKIELLA (06/10/86)

filed: June 10, 1986.

IN RE ESTATE OF AGNES JAKIELLA, DECEASED. APPEAL OF SOPHIE GOLBA AND JANE KWIAT, CONTESTANTS


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Lawrence County, Orphans Division, at No. 168 of 1977.

COUNSEL

Charles W. Garbett, Ellwood City, for appellants.

Irving M. Portnoy, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Brosky, Olszewski and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Brosky

[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 583]

This is an appeal from the order making final the decree of the Orphans' Court of Lawrence County which gave full force and effect to the last Will and Testament of Agnes Jakiella dated August 7, 1974. Appellants raise two issues for our determination: (1) whether appellee (proponent of the 1974 Will) stood in a position of trust and confidence with the testatrix at the time the 1974 Will was executed thus rendering the trial court's order erroneous; and (2) whether the case should be remanded for more detailed factual findings concerning the testatrix's ability to speak and understand English.

We have carefully reviewed the record and briefs submitted by counsel and after our own independent analysis of applicable law, we find no abuse of discretion by the trial court. Accordingly, we affirm the order.

At the outset we note that our scope of review in a case of the instant nature is extremely limited. As this

[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 584]

Court stated in Estate of Bankovich, 344 Pa. Super. 520, 522-23, 496 A.2d 1227, 1229 (1985):

Our review in [a will contest] is limited to determining whether the findings of fact approved by the court en banc rest on legally competent and sufficient evidence, and whether an error of law has been made or an abuse of discretion committed. It is not our task to try the case anew. The rule is particularly applicable 'to findings of fact which are predicated upon the credibility of the witnesses, whom the judge has had the opportunity to hear and observe, and upon the weight given to their testimony.' (citations omitted).

Additionally, we note that the trial court was similarly restricted in its scope of review when it heard the exceptions to the Decree Nisi and reargument on the final decree.*fn1

The testatrix was an immigrant from Poland who resided on a farm near New Castle, Pennsylvania. At the time of her death in 1977, the testatrix was survived by three children, appellants ...


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