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RICHARD DEMPSEY v. MADALINE FIGURA (02/22/88)

submitted: February 22, 1988.

RICHARD DEMPSEY
v.
MADALINE FIGURA, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order Enter October 7, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, Civil, at No. 11-84-683.

COUNSEL

James D. Wolfe, Johnstown, for appellant.

David J. Weaver, Johnstown, for appellee.

Cirillo, P.j., and Olszewski and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Watkins

[ 374 Pa. Super. Page 348]

This case concerns an appeal from an order of the Orphans Court of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County dated October 7, 1987, which nullified a will as the product of undue influence and also decided an equity action, by which an executrix of an estate sought to have certain bonds titled in joint names declared as estate assets, in favor of the joint tenant of the bonds. The executrix of the estate has initiated the instant appeal.

Cora I. Juneman died on September 11, 1984. On April 10, 1984, the home in which she had resided for thirty years was destroyed by fire. She and her husband, Robert Juneman, then went to live with her only natural son, Richard

[ 374 Pa. Super. Page 349]

Dempsey. On April 25, 1984, Robert Juneman died intestate possessed of approximately $70,000 in bonds held in his name and that of Cora Juneman. In May, 1984, Cora Juneman transferred title to the bonds to herself and her son, Robert Dempsey, to hold as a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. On August 11, 1984, physical custody of the bonds was transferred to the attorney for Madaline Figura, the executrix named in Cora Juneman's will of July 17, 1984, executed while she was hospitalized due to heart failure and deterioration of her lungs.

Cora Juneman had been hospitalized on June 6, 1984, due to her health problems. Helene Whip, sister of Cora Juneman, resides in Florida but frequently visited her sister and spent a great deal of time with her. Helene Whip disliked Richard Dempsey very much. Upon learning of her sister's hospitalization, Helene Whip prevailed upon her to execute the July 17, 1984 will by which she gave Richard Dempsey, her son, only one-tenth of her estate. Grandchildren with whom she maintained only a casual relationship would, under the terms of the will, receive the other nine-tenths of her estate. Dr. George Katter, who had treated Cora Juneman from 1961 until shortly before her death in 1984, testified that he had seen her a few days after she had executed her will on July 17, 1984 and that "she was in such a weakened condition that she could have been taken advantage of, because she was so demoralized". He stated that the loss of her home of thirty years in the fire, the death of her husband, and her deteriorating health, all occurring within a short period of time rendered her in a mental state where "she may have been influenced". Helene Whip was not mentioned in Cora Juneman's will.

After Cora Juneman was released from the hospital she went to Indiana to reside with one of her grandchildren where she died on September 11, 1984. Her will was probated on September 17, 1984.

On May 16, 1985, Richard Dempsey filed a Complaint in Equity seeking the return of the bonds after the executrix refused to turn ...


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