Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Shortly before his death, the decedent handwrote two documents purporting to give his estate to a beneficiary. Both documents were signed by a different witness, but the first document could not be located. In Estate of Burton v. Didricksen, the trial court held that Burton died intestate and the intermediate Washington State appellate court affirmed, holding that without knowing the contents of the first document, the two documents could not be considered counterparts that formed one will signed by two witnesses, and that even assuming the doctrine of substantial compliance applied, it was inapplicable because the two witnesses signed different documents.
Special thanks to William LaPiana (Professor of Law, New York Law School) for bringing this case to my attention.