SW Legal Educational Publishing

"Shoeless Joe" Jackson's Signature on His Will Is Government Property
Description The original will of a famous baseball player contained one of the few known copies of his signature. The beneficiary of his estate claimed the will document as an asset of the estate. State supreme court held that wills are part of the public record in Probate Court and, therefore, not property of the estate.
Topic Wills, Estates, and Trusts
Key Words Probate, Public Record, Signatures
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts "Shoeless Joe" Jackson was a member of the Chicago White Sox team accused of throwing the World Series. He was banned from baseball for life in 1921 by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. A rare [$100,000 plus value] copy of his signature is on his original will, which was in possession of his wife until her death in 1959. The assets of her estate were devised to the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. The charities claimed the will is an asset of the estate and, therefore, their property. The State of South Carolina claimed the will is a public record subject to retention by the county or the state. Summary judgment for the State. Charities appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The probate code of the state requires wills to be on file as public records with the Probate Court. The person who delivers a will, "even if a devisee under it," does not own the document. The will is properly retained by the county or the state.
Citation American Heart Assn. v. County of Greenville, 1997 WL 541927 (Sup. Ct., S.C.)
489 S.E.2d 921 (Sup. Ct., S.C., 1997)

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