Harrison v. Bird
621 So.2d 972 (1993)

  • Speer executed a will that named Harrison as the primary beneficiary.
    • Speer kept the original, and gave a photocopy to Harrison.
  • Speer later decided to revoke her will. She told her attorney. He physically ripped the will into several pieces, and mailed the pieces to Speer along with a letter from the attorney advising her that she was now without a will.
    • The ripped up pieces were lost.
  • Speer died. Harrison stepped forward with the copy of the will and asked for $$$. Bird, the executor, objected.
  • The Probate Court ruled that the will was revoked.
    • The Probate Court found that the will was destroyed by Speer’s attorney at her direction, but not in her presence (which doesn’t count).
    • There could be no ratification of the destruction of the will without the pieces.
    • However, the fact the pieces were missing created the presumption that Speers revoked the will herself after she received the pieces in the mail.
  • The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed.
    • The Alabama Supreme Court found that since Speer received the pieces before her death, and they are missing now, a presumption arises that she destroyed the will.
      • This presumption is rebuttable, but Harrison did not show evidence to rebut.
    • It was noted that a will is revoked by destroying the original. Once accomplished, this nullifies all duplicates and copies.