Under New York law, for a will to be valid, the person making the will, known as the testator, must have been of “sound mind and memory” at the time the will was executed. Testamentary capacity refers to the mental ability of the testator to understand the meaning and impact of signing a will.
In In re Ramirez, the will of decedent Ulysses Ramirez was submitted for probate by his surviving spouse, Francesca. Francesca was Ulysses’ fourth wife. He was also survived by 2 adults sons from prior marriages, David and Mikhail. The decedent died on April 23, 2018, less than a year after he met Francesca. At the time he met Francesca, he was being treated for terminal prostate cancer. About 7 months after he met Francesca, Ulysses left the home he was living in with Mikhail and moved in with Francesca. Francesca and Ulysses were married in December 2017. He executed a new will on April 14, 2018, leaving all his property to Francesca and naming her the executor. The estate included his condominium where his son Mikhail lived, worth around $750,000. He died shortly thereafter. A will contest was initiated based on a number of reasons, including lack of testimony capacity.
The objectors cited several irregularities surrounding the execution of the new will. The will was prepared based by Francesca’s personal attorney who never met or spoke with Ulysses and who lived 350 miles away. The attorney drafted the will and a power of attorney based on the instructions from Francesca that she provided via text messages. Francesca’s neighbor, Karen, and her neighbor’s son, Alexander, were the witnesses.