MY NOTES: Business Organizations | Constitutional Law I | Copyright Law | Evidence | Wills and Trusts

Wills & Trusts

Visiting Prof. Gerry W. Beyer

Fall 1999

Sample Examination Questions

[for use with Review Session Two]

QUESTION one[1]

Ted, a resident of California, executed a valid, typed will in 1987 devising his property, as follows:

1/2 to my wife, Wilma, if she survives me by 10 days.

1/4, to my friend, Fred, with the hope that he will use his share, if necessary, for the benefit of any children I may have.

All the residue to my Aunt May.

Anyone who contests this will or any of its provisions shall take nothing under the will.

Fred was one of the two witnesses to the will.

In 1989, Tedís only child, Sam, was born.In 1991, Tedís wife, Wilma, died.Ted did not remarry.Ted died in June 1993, survived by Sam, Aunt May (Aunt), and Fred.Sam and Aunt were Tedís only surviving relatives.

Both Sam and Aunt have sought the advice of Lawyer, claiming that Fred, as Tedís astrologer and financial adviser, had such influence over Ted from 1985 until Tedís death that Ted hardly knew what he was doing.

1.What arguments can Lawyer make which, if successful, would give Sam his greatest possible share of Tedís estate, and what would be the expected counterarguments and results?Discuss.

2.What arguments can Lawyer make which, if successful, would give Aunt her greatest possible share of Tedís estate, and what would be the expected counterarguments and results?Discuss.

3.Is it appropriate for Lawyer to represent both Sam and Aunt in proceedings to resolve claims to Tedís estate?Discuss.

QUESTION two[2]

Gloria, a widow, signed a typewritten will in the presence of Tom and Larry, who, being present at the same time, witnessed Gloriaís signing, understood the document was Gloriaís will, and signed the will as witnesses.The will contained the following provisions:

1.$10,000 to my friend, Tom.

2.My residence to my only daughter, Dora, provided she survives me by thirty days.

3.All my Mega Corp stock to my friend, Max, requesting that he distribute it as indicated in a letter to be found with this will.

4.The residue of my estate to my only son, Seth.

Subsequently, Gloria and Dora were involved in an automobile collision.Dora was killed instantly, and Gloria died one day later in the hospital.

Gloriaís will is found in her safe deposit box together with a typewritten, signed, but unwitnessed letter requesting Max to distribute the Mega Corp stock to Ben, a needy cousin whom Gloria had assisted financially in the past.Max truthfully testifies that the letter was prepared after the will was executed and that he orally agreed with Gloria to distribute the stock as requested in the letter.

Dora is survived by her husband, Hank, and her daughter, Gail.In addition to Hank and Gail, Tom, Max, Ben and Seth all survived Gloria.Gloriaís net estate consists of her residence, Mega Corp stock, and $100,000 in cash.

What portion of Gloriaís estate, if any, should be distributed to each of Tom, Hank, Gail, Max, Ben and Seth?Discuss.

Assume that the applicable statutory law is the same as that of California.

QUESTION three[3]

Tess was a widow with two adult children:Sam, from whom Tess was estranged, and Donna, to whom Tess was devoted. In 1992, Tess validly executed a typewritten will containing the following provisions:

A.My Bigco stock to my friend, Fred.

B.The residue of my estate to my daughter, Donna.

During the next few years Tess and Sam reconciled.In 1995, Tess prepared another typewritten will containing the following provisions:

A.I hereby revoke all prior wills.

B.My Bigco stock to my son, Sam.

C.The residue of my estate to my daughter, Donna.

Tess took this will to the house of Wit, a neighbor, declared to Wit that it was her will, and signed the will in Witís presence.Wit then signed the will as witness, although he did not know its contents.

Tess next took the will to the house of Ness, another neighbor, and asked Ness to ďwitness this paper.ĒNess signed the will as witness, although he did not understand that it was a will.

After Tessís death, both wills were found in her safe deposit box.The 1992 will had a large ďXĒ drawn across all of its pages.The 1995 will was unmarred.

Tess is survived by Donna, Sam and Fred.Her net estate consisted of her Bigco, stock (worth $400,000) and $600,000 in cash.

1.Is Tessís 1995 will valid?Discuss.

2.How should Tessís estate be distributed, assuming Tessís 1995 will is not valid?Discuss.

Assume that the applicable statutory law is the same as that of California.

QUESTION four[4]

In 1994, Testator (T), a widow with two adult children, executed a typewritten will providing:

1.$100,000 to Son (S).

2.My farm to Friend One (F1) and Friend Two (F2), share and share alike.

3.The residue of my estate to Daughter (D).

T signed the will in the presence of S and Witness (W), each of whom, being present at the same time, witnessed the signing, understood the document was Tís will, and signed as a witness.T had testamentary capacity and was not subject to duress, menace, fraud, undue influence, coercion, mistake or other pernicious influence.

In 1997, T and D were killed instantly in an automobile collision.Tís will was found in her safe deposit box with a line drawn through part of paragraph 2, as follows:

2.My farm to Friend One (F1) and Friend Two (F2) share and share alike.

D was survived by Husband (H) but no issue.She did not have a will.Tís estate consisted of $100,000 cash, her farm (worth $50,000), and other property worth $100,000.

1.Was Tís will validly executed?Discuss.

2.Assume Tís will was validly executed.How should Tís estate be distributed?Discuss.

Assume the applicable statutory law is that of California.



[1] California Bar Examination Question 6 (July 1993).

[2] California Bar Examination Question 6 (Feb. 1995).

[3] California Bar Examination Question 6 (July 1996).

[4] California Bar Examination Question 6 (Feb. 1998).