Jacqueline M. ROTHWELL and Franklin L. Molitor
Ronald T. MOLITOR, Barbara K. Vogelpohl, and Steve Molitor.
from Madison Circuit Court (CV-08-953)
Jacqueline M. Rothwell, appellant, pro se; and Franklin L.
Molitor, appellant, pro se.
T. Molitor, appellee, pro se.
M. Rothwell and Franklin L. Molitor ("the
contestants") appeal from a judgment entered by the
Madison Circuit Court ("the circuit court") in
favor of Ronald T. Molitor, Barbara K. Vogelpohl, and Steve
Molitor ("the proponents") in a will contest. We
reverse the circuit court's judgment.
April 24, 2008, Ronald T. Molitor ("Ronald") filed
in the Madison Probate Court ("the probate court")
a petition to probate the will of Lilly Molitor, the mother
of the proponents and the contestants. On June 9, 2008, the
probate court granted letters testamentary to Ronald.
25, 2008, the contestants filed in the circuit court a
verified petition requesting that the administration of the
estate be removed from the probate court to the circuit
court; they also attacked the will, alleging, among other
things, that Lilly had lacked testamentary capacity. The
contestants named Ronald, Barbara K. Vogelpohl
("Barbara"), and Lilly's estate as defendants
in the will contest. The defendants answered the petition on
August 18, 2008. Ronald, Barbara, and the estate subsequently
filed a counterclaim for attorney's fees, and the
contestants replied to that counterclaim. Ronald, Barbara,
and the estate then filed an amended answer.
24, 2010, the circuit court severed the administration
proceedings from the will contest and dismissed the estate
from the will contest.
September 14, 2011, the contestants amended their verified
petition to add Steve Molitor ("Steve") as a
defendant in the will contest. Steve answered the petition on
November 28, 2011.
was eventually held on November 26, 2018. At the trial, the
signature page of Lilly's will, as well as the alleged
self-proving affidavit, were introduced into evidence.
Without objection from the proponents, the contestants
introduced testimony pointing out that the alleged
self-proving affidavit contained an error. Specifically, the
name of one of the witnesses was listed as the testator in
the notary's acknowledgment. Furthermore, the second
witness and the name of the notary were listed as the two
witnesses on the notary's acknowledgment.
February 25, 2019, the circuit court entered a judgment
stating, in pertinent part:
"The matter ... that was set for trial before this
Court was a contest by the [contestants] of Lilly H.
Molitor's Last Will and Testament, based in part on the
allegation of lack of testamentary capacity, undue
influence and coercion. These allegations relate to the
Will executed by Lilly Molitor[,] the ...