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In Re Estate of Hart

JANUARY 26, 1967.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF ARTHUR D. HART, DECEASED. IRVIN E. THOMPSON, INDIVIDUALLY, AS TRUSTEE AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE PURPORTED WILL OF ARTHUR D. HART, DECEASED, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND NELL HART AND THAD S. HART, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES,

v.

ZORA HITE, ET AL., LESSIE HILL, A/K/A LESLIE HILL, ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Coles County; the Hon. JACOB BERKOWITZ, Judge, presiding. Order admitting instrument to probate affirmed.

TRAPP, J.

This in an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Coles County, Illinois, admitting to probate an instrument purporting to be the last will and testament of Arthur D. Hart.

The proponent of the will is Irvin E. Thompson who is named executor in the will. The objectors are two sisters of the testator, Zora Hite and Leslie Hill. The record does not make the status of the other objector appellants clear.

The will devises certain farmland to the widow, Nell Hart, creates a trust for the benefit of brothers and sisters, including Zora Hite and Leslie Hill, as to certain farmland, and devises the residue to the widow.

The will contains the following attestation clause:

"We, the undersigned, do hereby certify that the said Arthur D. Hart signed the above and foregoing paper in our presence and declared the same to be his Last Will and Testament on this, the 14th day of July, A.D. 1964, and requested us to sign the said will as witnesses, which we did in his presence and in the presence of each other, believing the said Arthur D. Hart to be fully possessed of all of his faculties and of sound mind and memory and in every way capable of making his Last Will and Testament."

The attestation clause was signed by the two witnesses, William W. Easton and Robert F. Swengel.

The witness, Robert F. Swengel, was a practicing physician and the testator was his patient. Dr. Swengel had known the testator for two and one-half years prior to his death. He testified positively that, in his opinion, the testator was of sound mind. On direct examination he testified in reference to soundness of mind: "To the best of my knowledge he was." On additional examination by the widow's attorney he testified: "In my opinion he was of sound mind."

William Easton, the other attesting witness, testified as follows:

Interrogation by Mr. Raymond Lee:

"Q. Will you state your name, please?

"A. William Wayne Easton.

"Q. And where do you reside?

"A. Mattoon, Illinois.

"Q. And what is your business or profession?

"A. I'm a rate clerk, at A & B Transfer, Mattoon.

"Q. Directing your attention, Mr. Easton to the 14th day of July, 1964. Where were you working at that time?

"A. At Mattoon Memorial Hospital.

"Q. I hand you a document which purports to be the Last Will and Testament of Arthur D. Hart; directing your attention to the next to the last page thereof, whose signature appears thereon?

"A. Arthur D. Hart.

"Q. Did he sign this instrument in ...


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