In re Kane's Estate

Citation206 Pa. 204,55 A. 917
Decision Date18 May 1903
Docket Number197
PartiesKane's Estate
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Argued March 10, 1903

Appeal, No. 197, Oct. T., 1902, by Ursula Breen, from decree of O.C. Allegheny Co., Nov. T., 1900, No. 168, dismissing appeal from register of wills in estate of Michael C. Kane deceased. Affirmed.

Appeal from register of wills admitting will to probate.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Supreme Court.

Error assigned was the decree of the court.

Decree affirmed at costs of appellant.

William B. Rodgers, with him William LeGoullon and A. M. O'Brien for appellant.

Johns McCleave, of Watson & McCleave, for appellee.




The member of the bar who wrote the testator's will had known him well as a client and otherwise for many years. He testified clearly and positively to the circumstances, how testator came to the court room in search of him and finding him occupied waited until lunch time, went then with him to his office, talked awhile about other matters of mutual interest and then gave directions for his will. The will was written and executed there, witnessed by Mr. McKenna and a student in his office. Being asked about an executor, testator named his brother Patrick, the beneficiary, and to a question whether he had said anything to Patrick about the will, replied tat he had not, he wanted to surprise him. McKenna's testimony was positive that he saw no impairment of testator's mind, nor any change from what he had always seen in him.

It further appeared in the undisputed evidence that the testator had been in business for many years, at first and for the larger part of the time with his brother, but afterwards by himself, and had accumulated a moderate fortune, chiefly during the later years when he had conducted a separate business by himself without even the aid of a clerk. This continued down to the date of the execution of the will.

On the other hand it was conceded that the testator died in May, 1900, insane. The will was made September 21, 1896, and it was shown that on September 19 he had had a congestive attack which he called a rush of blood to the head and which was variously described by others as apoplexy, an "apoplectiform attack," a "stroke," and "a slight stroke." He recovered and returned to his business on September 19, made his will on September 21 as already related, and continued in discharge of his business until October 1, when he had another and more severe attack of the same kind, and subsequently others which terminated in his admitted insanity in the summer of 1897. The crucial inquiry here is upon the state of his mind on September 21, 1896, when he made his will. Dr. Ayres the physician who attended him for the attack of September 11, 1896, had attended his niece in the same house a year previously and had been his physician from that time. He testified that the testator's mental condition was "perfectly normal" by September 16 or 17, so that no further visits to the patient's house were necessary, and that he had "made a complete recovery."

Other witnesses, including two physicians, business men with whom he dealt, neighbors and others, all of whom had known the testator for some years, gave testimony to business and personal relations with him and to his entire mental competency down to and including September, 1896.

The contestant on the other hand produced four medical witnesses as to testator's mental condition. The first was a graduate of 1899 who did not see the testator until the fall of 1899 when he was brought to the hospital, another attended him in the summer of 1897 until the arrival of Dr. Ayres, his regular physician, and the last, called in rebuttal, never saw him at all and testified only in answer to...

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6 cases
  • Aggas v. Munnell
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • November 24, 1930
    ...evidence to overcome. Phillip's Estate, 299 Pa. 415, 149 A. 719; Kustus v. Hager et al., 269 Pa. 103, 111, 112 A. 45; Kane's Estate, 206 Pa. 204, 55 A. Contestants submitted lay testimony and opinions of lay witnesses indicating lack of testamentary capacity. Some of these opinions were not......
  • Guarantee Trust & Safe Deposit Co. of Shamokin v. Heidenreich
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1927
    ...lay or expert, are of little value when confronted by established facts. Draper's Estate, 215 Pa. 314, 64 A. 520; Kane's Estate, 206 Pa. 204, 55 A. 917. At the last trial, the doctor mentioned a shocking suggestion, alleged to have been made by testator, when his wife was dying. The doctor ......
  • In re Brennan's Estate
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • May 22, 1933
    ...important. Kustus v. Hager, supra; In re Snyder's Estate, 279 Pa. 63, 123 A. 663; In re Phillips' Estate, supra; In re Kane's Estate, 206 Pa. 204, 55 A. The inference is, when a will has been prepared by counsel without the interference of any person, that the will was properly made by a pe......
  • Snyder's Estate
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • January 7, 1924
    ...Mulholland's Est., 217 Pa. 65; Draper's Est., 215 Pa. 314; Masseth's Est., 213 Pa. 136; Shreiner v. Shreiner, 178 Pa. 56; Kane's Est., 206 Pa. 204; Macauley's Est., 224 Pa. 1; Klein's Est., 207 Pa. 191; Morgan's Est., 219 Pa. OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE SIMPSON, January 7, 1924: This is a second......
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