Probate Stars: North Dakota Supreme Court: Holographic Will Not Valid When Material Portions Not Proven To Be In Decedent’s Handwriting (January 11, 2022)

Probate Stars discusses the Estate of Beach and the North Dakota Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the decision of the district court denying the admission of a holographic will to probate.

Decedent, Skip Beach, was survived by seven siblings and one daughter.  Skip’s brother, Clark Beach, filed a petition to probate a holographic will.  The purported holographic will read:

My Last Will and Testament

Skip Beach

I leave to Clark Beach

Everything I own

P.S. Bury me in Carlyle

4-8-04

At the hearing on Clark’s petition to probate the holographic will, Clark presented testimony from seven witnesses.  Many of the witnesses testified that the signature and all portions of the document were in the decedent’s handwriting.

After submission of written closing arguments, the court denied the petition for formal probate of the holographic will.  The court found that the signature “Skip Beach” on the proposed holographic will was the decedent’s signature based on the evidence. The court held the clause “Everything I own” was a material portion and was not in the decedent’s handwriting. The court reasoned that the clause appeared to have been written in different ink, was lighter in appearance, and was slanted different than the rest of the document. Additionally, the court found the clause was smaller in text and was written in only printed letters while other portions of the document use a mix of cursive and printed letters. The court stated the testimony given by Clark Beach, his siblings, and others did not change the court’s finding and stated “[n]one of these individuals are handwriting experts, and none of them ever saw this purported will before Skip’s death.” The court was not convinced that the material clause “Everything I own” was in the decedent’s handwriting and held that Clark Beach failed to meet his burden of proof that a material portion of the document was in the testator’s handwriting as required by law.

See Probate Source’s Summary by clicking: North Dakota Supreme Court: Holographic Will Not Valid When Material Portions Not Proven To Be In Decedent’s Handwriting

See original opinion by clicking: Estate of Beach

Posted by Marin Larkin, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.

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