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Erickson v. Erickson Case Brief

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					Erickson v. Erickson 246 Conn. 359, 716 A.2d 92 (1998)
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Erickson was unmarried and had three daughters. He wrote a will. Two days later he married Dorothy (who happened to be younger than some of his daughters, wink wink...). o The will gave the residue of his estate to Dorothy, and if she predeceased then half goes to his three daughters and half goes to Dorothy's kids. It also gave Dorothy guardianship and made her the executor. A few years later Erickson died. Erickson's daughter Alicia sued to have the will declared invalid. o Alicia argued that, under Connecticut State law, a will is automatically revoked when the testator gets married, unless with will contains a marriage contingency clause.  That's called revocation by operation of law. The Probate Court found the will to be valid. Alicia appealed. The Appellate Court reversed and decided that the will been revoked when Erickson got married. Dorothy appealed. o Alicia argued that extrinsic evidence is not admissible in determining the decedent's intent. Once should only look at the date of the will, the date of the marriage certificate, and the date of the death certificate.  In general, if the will has plain language, and does not contain anything ambiguous, then you cannot introduce extrinsic evidence to determine meaning. o Dorothy argued that it was clearly not Erickson's intent to create a will that would be invalid two days later. The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed and remanded for trial. o The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed that, under Connecticut State law, a will that does not have a contingency clause is revoked upon marriage. o However, the Court found that the absence of a contingency clause was probably a mistake. If a jury found that it was a mistake, and that Erickson believed that his will would remain valid after his marriage,

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then the will would be valid.  Basically the Court said that this was the equivalent of a typo (aka a scrivener's error). o The Court felt that since extrinsic evidence was admissible to show other things (like there had been fraud or undue influence), then it should also be admissible to show that there had been a mistake. Connecticut (as well as most other States) have gotten rid of laws that revoke wills upon marriage. If Dorothy had lost and the will was revoked, Dorothy could have still gotten a share as a pretermitted spouse. o A pretermitted spouse is a person who marries someone who already has executed a will and never bothers to revise it to include the spouse.  They get what they would get via intestate transfer.  In Connecticut that's $100k + half the rest of the estate. In the case of In re Pavlinko's Estate, the Court came to an opposite conclusion about scrivener's errors as was found in this case.


				
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