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Script vs. Block Printing in Holographic Will (California)

Discussion in 'Estate Planning, Creating Wills & Trusts' started by L3338, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. L3338

    L3338 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    With the understanding that holographic wills have a number of potential disadvantages, I have one question. I've seen references to a court case where a holographic will written out entirely in block text, including the signature, was considered to be valid.

    However, my understanding is that one of the typical ways that a holographic will is "tested" for validity is if the text of the will and the signature are in the same handwriting.

    What about the situation where a person routinely writes in block text (mainly due to their script writing ability having atrophied over many years and now having legibility problems), but signs their signature in script. That is, if a holographic will is written out in block text, and signed with a script signature (or with both a block text writing out of the name and a script signature, as is common on many contracts), would the will be considered to be valid in California? Thanks very much.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    So long as the court can be convinced that the block handwriting was indeed that of the decedent the holographic will would be recognized. If there are lots of samples of the decedent writing in that fashion that would tend to make it easier to prove.
     
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  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You may be referring to the Estate of Homer Eugene Williams. This decision of the CA Court of Appeals was the first on the list when a searched for "holographic will block letters."

    In re Estate of Williams, 66 Cal. Rptr. 3d 34 - Cal: Court of Appeal, 6th Appellate Dist. 2007 - Google Scholar

    That is only one of many elements that can be used by a court to determine the validity of a holographic. As you read the Williams decision it will be clear to you how many elements were analyzed.

    The court also note that CA is rather liberal in determining the validity of a holographic will.

    The Williams decision implies that, more than likely, it would be valid. But there would surely be other elements of the will subject to analysis.

    There are several other CA cases involving holographic wills that might interest you.

    Google Scholar
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    See these references where? What is the citation for the case?

    Where and how did you acquire this "understanding"?

    California's laws on the validity of a will are found in Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 6 of the Probate Code (section 6110, et seq.).

    The traditional requirements for a valid will are set forth in section 6110, and section 6111(a) says that "[a] will that does not comply with Section 6110 is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator." Whether a person writes "in block text" or in some sort of "script" or uses cursive -- or even whether a person uses Hebrew, Cyrillic or Greek letters -- is not of any relevance.

    In In re Estate of Williams, 155 Cal. App. 4th 197, 66 Cal. Rptr. 3d 34 (2007), the decedent's child challenged the admission of a holographic will offered by his father's stepdaughter. The son's primary argument was that it wasn't a valid holographic will because his father didn't sign it. Specifically, the son argued that his father's "name at the top of the document is written in block letters, and therefore, cannot be considered a signature." 66 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 44. The court rejected that argument, holding that "several cases illustrate that the way a testator signs a holographic will does not need to be identical to a signature used to sign other legal documents." Id., at 45.

    Given that the signature can be in block letters/text, it is certainly the case that the text of a holographic will may also be in block letters/text.
     
  6. L3338

    L3338 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks all for the responses! As was surmised, I had indeed seen discussion of the Williams case. My point of concern has been whether the body of the will and the signature need to be in the same form. That is, if one routinely writes documents in block letters, but still uses a script signature, would the fact that the body of the will was written in block text but the signature is in script present a problem in terms of authentication, since the body and signature would be in different styles and would not "match" per se. Thanks again very much!
     

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