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Although courts may consider statements made before and after a holographic will is made and the surrounding circumstances, evidence of present testamentary intent provided by the instrument at issue is paramount. Cal. Prob. Code § 6111(c).
Before she died, deceased, who was never married and had no children, submitted a donor card to respondent animal league, North Shore Animal League (NSAL), checking a box on the card which stated, "I am not taking action now but my intent is," and filling in the blank with the handwriting, "My entire estate is to be left to" NSAL. She signed, dated, and returned the card before she died, leaving no will. After her death, NSAL claimed that the donor card constituted a valid holographic will. Appellant distant relatives countered the admission, but the lower court admitted the card to probate as a valid will.
Did the handwriting on the donor card constitute a holographic will?
The court reversed the judgment of the lower court which admitted deceased's donor card to NSAL into probate as a holographic will, finding that the card was not drafted to serve as a will. The court also found that the handwriting evinced a future, not present testamentary intent at the time of execution. Because the court found that neither the card nor the handwriting substantially complied with the requirements of Cal. Prob. Code § 6111, it was not a valid holographic will.