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Law School Case Brief

Estate of Stoker - 193 Cal. App. 4th 236, 122 Cal. Rptr. 3d 529 (2011)

Rule:

A revocation of a will may be accomplished without the formalities of a formal will. Prob. Code, § 6120. In determining whether a will has been revoked, courts may consider extrinsic evidence of the testator's intent.

Facts:

The probate court entered a judgment denying appellant’s petition to probate a decedent’s 1997 will and trust and granting respondent’s petition to probate the decedent’s 2005 will. Appellants sought review.

Issue:

Does the existence of a 2005 invalidate the decedent’s 1997 will and trust?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that the petition to probate the 2005 will was, in practical effect, an action challenging the validity of the trust. The probate court did not err by ruling that the 2005 will was valid, even though the 2005 will lacked witnesses' signatures. The court also found that substantial evidence supported the probate court's finding the decedent revoked the 1997 will and trust. The statement in the 2005 will that the decedent's children were to receive all his property was an express revocation of the earlier 1997 will which purported to give this property to others.

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