In re Estate of Beale
15 Wis.2d 546, 113 N.W.2d 380 (1962)

  • Beale had some friends come over, showed them a large stack of papers, and declared it to be his will. He signed the top page and then had the friends sign the top page as well.
    • The pages were not stapled together and the witnesses did not read the other pages.
  • The next day, he sent a letter to his secretary asking her to make some changes to two of the pages of the will.
    • The changes involved who was to be the executor, they did not modify any of the bequests.
  • A few months later, Beale asked his secretary to retype the two pages with changes on the same typewriter that she had typed the original will on. But before she got around to typing them, he died.
  • The will was challenged by Beale’s son on the grounds that it was unnatural.
    • The will gave all the money to the Masons and completely disinherited Beale’s 10 year old son.
  • The Probate Court found the will to be valid. Beale’s son appealed.
    • It was argued that since Beale wanted changes made to the will after the witnesses signed, he must not have intended the will as signed to be his last will and testament. Therefore it is not valid.
      • In order to be valid, a will “must constitute the testator’s will at the moment of execution.”
    • It is a requirement that all pages of a will be together when signed.
      • There was some factual issue as to whether all 14 pages of the will were present when the witnesses signed or if two of the pages had been sent back to the secretary for editing.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that the will was a valid will as it was written when it was first typed.
      • Beale’s son unsuccessfully argued that since the pages hadn’t been stapled together, and since Beale had made changes to the pages, they did not constitute Beale’s official last will and testament, they were just intended to be a draft. Therefore there was no testamentary intent.
    • The Appellate Court noted that a Probate Court cannot find a will invalid because appeared to be “unjust to a natural object of the testator’s bounty.”