In re Hargrove’s Will
262 A.D. 202, 28 N.Y.S.2d 571, aff’d 288 N.Y. 604, 42 N.E.2d 608 (1942)

  • Hargrove wrote a will. The will did not leave any $$$ for two of his children. Instead, it gave all the money to his business associate’s widow (Griscom).
    • Hargrove went through a nasty divorce and believed that the children were not his.
      • Hargrove’s divorce attorney married his ex-wife a week after the divorce!
      • The wife testified that she had been faithful and that the kids were Hargrove’s.
    • Other than this belief, there was nothing particularly delusional about Hargrove’s behavior.
    • Hargrove had no contact with his children for the next 31 years.
  • Hargrove died, and the children contested the will.
    • The children argued that Hargrove suffered from an insane delusion that the children were not his, and therefore he lacked testamentary capacity to form a will.
    • The ten witnesses that signed the will all testified that Hargrove was, “at all times of sound mind and unusual intelligence.”
  • The Trial Court found Hargrove to be delusional and invalidated the will. Griscom appealed.
    • The Trial Court accepted as a matter of law that the children were Hargrove’s.
  • The Appellate Court reversed.
    • The Appellate Court found that delusion was when someone believed a fact even though there was no evidence to support the fact.
      • If there was some evidence to support the fact, even if that evidence were not persuasive, then a person believing that fact would not be delusional, they’d just be wrong.
    • The Appellate Court found that, based on the evidence related to the divorce, it was conceivable that the children were not his. Therefore, he was not delusional.
      • If there is a rational basis then there is no delusion.
      • The Court pointed out that there were not ruling on actual paternity, just on whether it was believable that Hargrove was not the father.
  • In a dissent, it was argued that Hargrove had once written an affidavit in another case where he claimed that his wife had slept with hundreds of men, not just his ex lawyer. That affidavit was evidence that Hargrove was not only delusional, he lacked testamentary capacity.