Estate of Gibbs - Can extrinsic evidence be used to show that a will’s description of property or a beneficiary (latent ambiguity) is mistaken so that the will can be executed per the testator’s intent - Yes. Facts : Both wills of George and Lena Adele Gibbs (the Gibbs) made a one percent bequest to “Robert J. Krause, now of 4708 North 46th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” However, the name of the Gibbs’s old friend was Robert W. Krause and he lived at a different address. The Gibbs did not actually know Robert J. Krause who lived at 4708 North 46th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Held : Extrinsic evidence will be admitted to determine whether property or a beneficiary has been erroneously identified. ● There is no ambiguity in the text of the wills, but the beneficiary’s middle initial and address are clearly mistaken since the Gibbs did not know Robert J. Krause of 4708 North 46th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the beneficiary described in their wills. ○ If the extrinsic evidence shows that there are erroneous details in the description of the property or a beneficiary, those details should be disregarded to avoid frustrating the testator’s intent. ○ Otherwise, the traditional doctrine barring reformation of wills, even where an obvious mistake has occurred, would prevent the court from changing the text of the will unless there is ambiguity in the text of the will. ● To avoid frustrating the Gibbs’ clear intent to make a bequest to their friend of thirty years, Robert W. Krause, by enforcing the will exactly as written and awarding the bequest to a person whom the Gibbs did not know, the middle initial and address of the beneficiary may be disregarded and enforced as though those details were not included. M. Mistake In General The general mistake doctrine in almost all jx is that wills should not be reformed for mistakes , unless the mistake is clear on the face of the will and it is also clear what would have been in the will but for the mistake. ● Mistake of Fact (Mistake in the Inducement) : when a testator is mistaken about a particular fact, where by the testator writes and executes her will under a mistaken belief about a particular fact. o [ Gifford ] “if only T knew the true facts, T would have left us money”— courts are reluctant o Rule : In order to reform a will for mistake, the mistake 1. must appear on the face of the will, and 2. the disposition that the testator would have madeBUT FOR the mistaken belief must be clear on the face of the will. o POLICY: courts are worried about letting extrinsic evidence in and creating bad precedent/opening the floodgates. o Hypo: T leaves 2m to husband “loyal, faithful & true” and residuary to son. Son argues H shouldn’t get because he has evidence of H cheating on T. Should a judge allow this ▪ Truth seeking/T’s intent: how do we know it was really a mistake? She might have left him the 2m anyway ▪ Judicial economy/floodgates: If we allow this anyone can come in and say they should have gotten a share o Now will says: I would have have given him the money if he wasn’t dead. Turns out he’s not dead; he ran away on a boat (Gifford v.
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