Estate of Norton
Supreme Court of North Carolina
410 S.E.2d 484 (1991)
The decedent, Lawrence Norton, executed a will at some point before 1977. The will, as presented to the probate court, consisted of six pages, with the sixth page ending mid-sentence. The six pages did not contain signatures from witnesses or a notary. Norton also executed a two-page codicil in 1984, which was signed by Norton, two witnesses, and a notary. The six-page document was stapled together with the two-page codicil and a cover sheet with the title “Will of Lawrence Norton and Codicil to the Will of Lawrence Norton.” The two documents were stapled together by Norton’s granddaughter at Norton’s request, because Norton believed the codicil needed to be attached to the six-page document “to be any good.” Norton placed both documents together in his safety deposit box. Also in Norton’s safety deposit box was another codicil that had been executed years earlier, which was also missing pages. Norton’s daughter Teab (plaintiff) submitted the eight stapled pages and cover sheet to the court for probate, and a jury trial was held. The jury found that the codicil was property executed and that the six-page document was properly incorporated by reference into the codicil, making the resulting eight-page document Norton’s complete will. The trial court then entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict, finding that although the codicil was properly executed, the six-page document was not incorporated by reference into the codicil. The court of appeals affirmed. Teab appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Meyer, J.)
Dissent (Martin, J.)
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