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In re Succession of Plummer
Louisiana Court of Appeal
847 So. 2d 185 (2003)
Ronald Plummer filled out a preprinted form to create a revocable inter vivos trust. Had it been completed, the inter vivos trust would have operated similarly to a will. However, Plummer never completed all the steps needed to activate the trust. As part of the trust form, Plummer handwrote two pages of instructions for the trust’s assets. These instructions made sense only if read with the preprinted text on the form’s other pages. Read together, the typed and handwritten words directed Plummer’s siblings (defendants) to manage several of his assets in specific ways and left his retirement pension for his minor daughter, Cheronda Thomas (plaintiff). But the instructions were mostly for managing Plummer’s assets and did not clearly give many of these assets to anyone in particular. After Plummer died, Cheronda’s mother opened a probate proceeding and petitioned to have Plummer’s assets distributed using intestacy laws, contending that Plummer had not left behind a will. Plummer’s siblings responded with the two pages of instructions from the incomplete trust, claiming that the two pages operated as a holographic will. The trial court ruled that the document was not a valid holographic will. The siblings appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kostelka, J.)
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