Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

North Dakota Supreme Court: Holographic Will Not Valid When Material Portions Not Proven To Be In Decedent’s Handwriting

Estate planningIn Estate of Beach, the North Dakota Supreme Court "upheld the decision of the district court denying the admission of a holographic will to probate." 

The decedent, Skip Beach, was survived by seven siblings and one daughter. Clark Beach, the brother of the decedent, filed a petition to probate a holographic will, which read: 

My Last Will and Testament 

Skip Beach 

I leave to Clark Beach 

Everything I own 

P.S. Bury me in Carlyle 


At the hearing, Clark presented testimony from seven witnesses, who testified that "the signature and all portions of the document were in the decedent's handwriting." 

The court denied the petition for formal probate of the holographic will after finding that although the the signature "Skip Beach" was the decedent's signature, the clause "Everything I own" was not in the decedent's handwriting. 

The court reasoned that it did not have to accept the witness testimony as credible simply because the witnesses testified that the will was written in the authentic handwriting of the decedent. Further, "Clark beach not only had the initial burden of proof to show due execution of the purported holographic will, but he also had the burden of persuasion. . ." 

The North Dakota Supreme Court determined that "the district court did not clearly err in finding that the material portions of the purported holographic will were not in the testator's handwriting."

See North Dakota Supreme Court: Holographic Will Not Valid When Material Portions Not Proven To Be In Decedent’s Handwriting , Probate Stars, January 11, 2022. 


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