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Estate of Hall

Montana Supreme Court
51 P.3d 1134 (2002)


Facts

Mr. Hall executed a will. Years later, Mr. and Mrs. Hall signed a joint will, which stated that it revoked all previous wills, but that document was not witnessed. After signing the joint will, Mr. Hall told Mrs. Hall to destroy his original will, which she did. Mr. Hall died, and was survived by Mrs. Hall and by two daughters from a previous marriage, Sandra and Charlotte. Mrs. Hall (plaintiff) petitioned for probate of the joint will. Sandra (defendant) objected and petitioned for probate of Mr. Hall’s original will. Under sec. 72-2-522(1)(c), MCA, a testator’s signature on a will must be witnessed by two people who must then also sign the will. However, if a will is not properly witnessed, sec. 72-2-523, MCA, allows the will to be treated as if it had been properly executed if there is clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended it to be his or her will. Mrs. Hall testified that she and Mr. Hall intended the joint will to be their will. The district court admitted the joint will to probate, and Sandra appealed, arguing that the joint will was invalid because it was not properly witnessed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Regnier, 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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