Application of Dead Man’s Act

Addressing a series of inter-related in limine motions and motions for summary judgment, the court held that: Although a party with an interest adverse to the estate may be barred from testifying under the Dead Man’s Act, the spouse of the adverse party is not barred. When more than one party is interested in the same series of transaction, each is barred from testifying in support of their own claim but may testify in support of other claimants if the testimony does not inherently support their own claim. If a claimant is allowed to testify in this way, the cross-examination of the claimant is not a waiver of the Dead Man’s Act. Testimony that a claimant had performed services for which the disputed transfers might have been compensation was allowed even though it was inconsistent with the claims of inter vivos gifts because it was relevant to refute other claims. The admissible evidence was insufficient to allow an interested party to testify who was otherwise barred by the Dead Man’s Act. Dead Man’s Act was not waived by the inclusion of a police report in a motion for summary judgment when the report was hearsay and so inadmissible. A good faith waiver of interests in the estate may make a witness competent to testify. Estate of Leland W. Benson, Jr., 11 Fid.Rep.3d (Lycoming O.C. 2021).

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