In re Strittmater
53 A.2d 205 (1947)

Facts:

  • Louisa Strittmater died and left her estate to the New Jersey branch of the National Women’s Party, of which she was a member. Her will was challenged on the basis of insanity.
  • In Strittmater’s physician’s opinion, she suffered from paranoia and split personality.
  • Furthermore, numerous memoranda and comments written by decedent on the margins of her books supported this theory:
    • ‘My father was a corrupt, vicious, and unintelligent savage, a typical specimen of the majority of his sex. Blast his wormstinking carcass and his whole damn breed.’
    • Next to a photograph of her mother Strittmater wrote ‘That Moronic she-devil that was my mother.’
    • She looked forward to the day when women would bear children without the aid of men, and all males would be put to death at birth.

Issue:
Whether Miss Strittmater’s will is the product of her insanity.

Holding:
Yes.

Reasoning:
‘I think it was her paranoic condition, especially her insane delusions about the male, that led her to leave her estate to the National Women’s Party. The result is that the probate should be set aside.’

Rule: A person may have sufficient mental capacity to execute a will but be suffering from an insane delusion so as to cause a will to fail for lack of testamentary capacity nonetheless.