Saturday, December 10, 2016
ATTESTATION: Witnesses’ signatures on loose page did not prevent finding of due execution. The decedent’s will consisted of six loose pages, numbered consecutively with a running footer declaring the pages to be 1 of 6, 2 of 6 and so on. The font and typeface were consistent from one page to the next and the document consisted of 11 consecutively numbered paragraphs. The decedent signed at the foot of page 5 and the witnesses’ signatures appear on page 6. Page 5 ends with “an inarticulate sentence fragment” which does not connect grammatically with the first sentence of page 6. The rest of the text on page 6 is not a complete attestation clause because it omits to state that the witnesses signed in the presence of the testator. Nevertheless, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that in these circumstances the witnesses signatures were part of the will and the presumption of due execution applied. Castruccio v. Estate of Castruccio, No. 1665, 2016 WL 5462966 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Sept. 29, 2016).
Special thanks to William LaPiana (Professor of Law, New York Law School) for bringing this case to my attention.