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Matter of Estate of Crook

Decided: March 29, 1965.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF FRANCES C. CROOK, DECEASED


Camarata, J.c.c.

Camarata

Defendants Carolyn Blair, Jean K. Clements, Lowel Cooper and Nathaniel C. Kendrick obtained an order to show cause to set aside the probate of the will of Frances C. Crook, dated June 20, 1964. The decedent was 84 years old at the time she died on October 21, 1964.

Defendant contends that:

(a) On July 24, 1961 decedent executed a will prepared by her then attorney, William H. Campbell, Jr.

(b) In the 1961 will, amongst other bequests, was $1,000 to her doctor, Dr. Thomas O. Maxfield, Jr.

(c) The remainder of the estate was bequeathed to various individuals and charities, including defendants. Mr. Campbell and the Maplewood Bank were named as executors.

(d) On June 20, 1964 (four months before decedent's death) she executed a new will containing a number of specific bequests, changing, amongst others, the interest of defendants as it appeared in the 1961 will.

(e) Under the second will the bequest to Dr. Maxfield was increased.

(f) The residuary estate was left to a charitable foundation.

(g) The 1964 will named Dr. Maxfield as the executor and he was to name the trustee of the foundation. The wish was expressed that he be president.

(h) The 1964 will was prepared by Haskins, Robottom & Hack, the attorneys who probated the will; Mr. Haskins was asked by Mr. Martin, an accountant who did work for Dr. Maxfield and decedent, to go to the decedent's home to prepare a will for the organization of the foundation; in April or May of 1964 Mr. Haskins and Mr. Martin went to the decedent's home, at which time Dr. Maxfield was there with the decedent; this happened again on May 21, 1964, except Mr. Martin was not present. Based on information, data and papers Mr. Haskins received from the decedent, he prepared the will executed by decedent on June 20, 1964.

On January 30, 1965 defendants' attorneys took the oral depositions of Mr. Haskins, an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey, during which proceeding he refused to answer questions concerning his attorney-client relationship with the decedent. Defendants then made a motion to ...


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