Estate of Gonzalez

The Facts

  • T wanted to prepare a will before a trip to FL
  • T filled in the blanks of a pre-printed will form
  • T indicated that he planned to leave equal share to 3 of his five children (Kerry, Tara, and Kristin)
  • T showed completed form to B and BW
  • BW saw T sign the completed form as well as the blank form he intended to use to more it more neat
  • BW, nor anyone else, signed the first form as a witness.
  • B, BW and M signed the blank form, thinking it would eventually be the final copy.
  • T died in Aug 2001 before completing the 2nd form

Procedural History

  • Kerry, Tara and Kristin tried to probate first, unattested will
  • Todd and Allison (2 remaining children objected)

The Issue

  • Whether T’s will qualifies as a holographic will

The Rule

  • In order for a document not qualifying as a formal will to be admitted to probate, it must qualify as a holographic will per the statute, which is one where the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator.

The Holding/Disposition

  • Yes, affirmed

Court’s Reasoning

  • Ds argue that the will was not a holographic will because they argue that a material provision (testamentary intent) appears in the preprinted portion of the form and therefore is not in T’s handwriting.
  • 2 approaches to this problem
  • Some courts look to the preprinted words as evidence of context for the handwritten words
  • Other courts have ignored all of the preprinted words and determined whether the handwritten words, taken alone, fulfill the requirements of a holographic will

Court takes first approach, ruling that the printed portions of a will form can be incorporated into a holographic will where the TC finds testamentary intent, considering all of the evidence in the case.

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