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Estate of Gonzalez

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
855 A.2d 1146 (2004)


Facts

Fermin Gonzalez used a form will because he wanted to complete his will before leaving on a trip to Florida. The form contained preprinted language indicating the intent to bequeath and devise upon death, and Gonzalez filled in, in his own handwriting, the list of his property, his intended recipients and funeral instructions. His sister-in-law, Elizabeth, saw Gonzalez sign that will. However, because Gonzalez intended to copy over the same information onto a new blank form will, Gonzalez’s mother and brother and Elizabeth signed as witnesses on the blank form. Gonzalez then fell ill and died without completing and signing the blank form will that had been signed by his witnesses. The completed, signed, but unattested will left his estate in equal shares to three of his five children, Kerry Ann Gonzalez, Tara Maureen Gonzalez Grenon, and Kristin Julia Gonzalez (defendants), who sought to probate the will. The two children excluded from Gonzalez’s will, Todd and Alison Gurney (plaintiffs), opposed probate of the will and claim on appeal that because the handwritten portions of the will do not express the decedent’s testamentary intent, the will is not a valid holographic will.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Alexander, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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