In re Estate of Kuralt

The Facts

  • T was born in NC in 1934
  • In 1962, T married Petie
  • In 1968, T met Patricia Elizabeth Shannon (S) and began a romance with her.
  • Between 1970 and 1994, T hosted CBS News Sunday Morning
  • Became known for his On the Road series, for which he used a motorhome
  • T used 6 different motorhomes over the course on the stories
  • In May 1989, T executed a holographic will that left all T’s interest in the Montana property to S
  • T mailed a copy to S and executed it in NYC
  • T retired in 1994
  • In April of 2007, T deeded his interest in the part of the Montana land to S and guised is as a sale, the price of which he gave to her in advance.
  • The plan was to do this for the remained of the property in Sept 1997
  • In June 1997, T sent S a letter with 2 checks totaling $17,000, indicating he wished for her to inherit property should something happen to him.
  • T died in July 1997
  • 2 weeks prior T had written a letter to S assuring her she would inherit the property in Montana
  • W was unaware of relationship prior to T’s death
  • T’s formal will shows T’s beneficiaries as W and their 2 children
  • Neither S nor her children are named in the formal will

Procedural History

  • S attempted to probate holographic will.
  • T’s estate(E) contested, arguing the writing was only a future intent to make a will
  • TC granted partial summary judgment for E
  • S appealed
  • AC reversed and remanded
  • TC now found for S
  • E appealed

The Issue

  • Whether TC erred when it found that the letter constituted a holographic will

The Rule

  • When the 2nd will does not make a complete disposition of T’s estate, the second will is more in the nature of a codicil to the first will.

The Holding/Disposition

  • No, affirmed

Court’s Reasoning

  • E argues that DC failed to recognize the legal effect of the later will
  • Court found that the later letters showed T intended for the later will not to have effect on the earlier letter.

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