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12/13/89 In Re Estate of Genevieve B. Carroll

December 13, 1989

IN RE ESTATE OF GENEVIEVE B. CARROLL, DECEASED (RICHARD C.


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

Carroll, Petitioner-Appellant, v.

Timothy Carroll, a Minor, by Walter P. Dahl, Guardian ad

litem, Respondent-Appellee)

548 N.E.2d 650, 192 Ill. App. 3d 202, 139 Ill. Dec. 265 1989.IL.1933

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Henry A. Budzinski, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE and CERDA, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE RIZZI

Executor-appellant, Richard C. Carroll (Carroll), appeals from the circuit court's order denying the deceased's will to probate. On appeal, Carroll argues that the court improperly denied admission of the will to probate. We reverse and remand with instructions.

Genevieve B. Carroll died on November 19, 1984. Her son, Carroll, petitioned the circuit court of Cook County for letters testamentary and to probate the will. On January 15, 1987, the court admitted the will to probate and appointed Carroll the independent executor of her estate. The court, on its own motion, after noting that the deceased's signature was not at the end of the will, appointed an attorney as guardian ad litem for Timothy Carroll, the minor grandson of the decedent. Thereafter, the guardian ad litem filed a petition requesting a formal proof of the will.

The decedent's will, dated June 10, 1983, consists of a standard preprinted form entitled "LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT." The purported signature of Genevieve B. Carroll appears on the first line in a sentence which declares the document to be her last will and testament. The form does not include instructions or language indicating a signature line. Rather, the signature line is designated by the word "Seal."

Three witnesses signed the will. At the time of the hearing on the petition, one witness, Rose Steeman, was deceased. The other two witnesses, Hiltrude May Kuhlman and Mildred Gibbons, were not ambulatory, and on June 12, 1987, their evidence depositions were taken at their nursing home.

During her deposition, Ms. Kuhlman recognized her signature and testified that she had signed the will. She also testified that her address was written in her handwriting. Ms. Kuhlmann acknowledged that the other witnesses were her friends, but had no recollection of the circumstances under which she had signed the will. Similarly, the other witness, Mildred Heiden Gibbons, Genevieve Carroll's former roommate at the nursing home, acknowledged that she had signed the will, but could not remember the surrounding ...


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