Brief Fact Summary. Vasil Pavlinko signed will that created for and purported to be written by his wife Hellen Pavlinko. The couple had identical wills drawn up leaving their properoty to each other and naming the same residual legatee. The will signed by Vasil Pavlinko but signed by Hellen Pavlinko was submitted for probate after Vasil Pavlinko’s death.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A will is not valid if the will specifically purports to be the will of one person but is signed by his or her spouse.
A residuary gift carries with it, and is presumed to have been so intended, not only all the estate which remains not specifically disposed of at the time the will is executed, but all that, for any reason, which is illy disposed of, or fails as to the legatees originally intended: Wood's Est.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether a will is valid if it is signed by a person other than the indivudal that is referenced to in the will as being the creator of the will.
Held. No. The Wills Act specifically requires that a will be in writing and signed by the testator. Here the will was not signed by the person whom the will describes as being the creator. Even though the facts show that the husband signed his wife’s will by mistake and both the spouse and the husband intended to leave their property to each other, the will cannot be probated because it does not meet the requirements. Such a holding would leave room to fraudulent claims.
Dissent. The Pavlinkos’ wills were identical. They left each other their property and had the same residual legatee. The attorney knew the language the Pavlinko’s spoke in and versed with them in this language. The intent of the testator must be determined by looking at the four corners of the will signed. Because the couple both left their residuary estate to the same person, the will should be admitted for probate. In addition, the residuary clause can stand on its own so the whole will should not be submitted for probate.
Discussion. The court will strictly adhere to staturory will formation reaquirement that the testator sign his or her own will unless there is evidence to show that someone else is unjustly enriched by the purported error.