Schools v. Probate Court District of Windham-Colchester
A testator can revoke an original will by burning, canceling, tearing or obliterating the will or by signing another will or a codicil. In August 2007, the decedent, Josephine Schools, allegedly decided that her son, Robert Schools, should not receive any part of her estate, and she signed a will that left her entire estate to the defendants, Susan and Robert Gannon. Although the original will could not be located, when Josephine Schools passed away in May 2010, the Colchester Probate Court admitted an unsigned copy of the August 2007 will. The decedent's child, Robert, appealed to the Superior Court and argued that his mother intended to revoke the original will. In December 2009, Michelle Savalle, a friend of Josephine Schools, talked with Josephine Schools about her decision to disinherit her son. Allegedly, Josephine Schools indicated that she had had a change of heart, and Savalle observed Josephine shred the original will. Connecticut General Statutes §45a-257 provides, "[A] will or codicil shall not be revoked in any manner except by burning, canceling, tearing or obliterating it by the testator or by some person in the testator's presence by the testator's direction, or by a later will or codicil." The Superior Court found that there was clear evidence that Josephine Schools shredded the original will in an attempt to revoke it and to leave her estate to her child, the plaintiff, Robert Schools, as opposed to the defendants, Susan and Robert Gannon. The defendants cited the decision of Estate of Mary, in which an unsigned will was admitted to probate. Estate of Mary was not on point, because there was no attempt to revoke the original will in Estate of Mary. The defendants failed to prove that the decedent did not intend to revoke the original will. Susan Gannon searched for the original will and could not find it, and there was evidence that Josephine Schools shredded it with the intent to revoke. The court granted judgment to the plaintiff, Robert Schools.