Oct 01, 2021 Probate and Trusts
Estate of Arnold Marks (Oct. 1, 2021, B303281) 2021 WL 4487721 [nonpublished opinion]

The Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One, has affirmed a probate court ruling in favor of GMSR’s clients in a contest over interpretation of a hand-written will.

The testator was not a lawyer and wrote his will informally. He sometimes drew arrows to connect beneficiaries to particular gifts, or named additional beneficiaries in the margin. As to the three commercial properties at issue in this case, he numbered them (1), (2) and (3) down the page but named his intended beneficiaries after property (1). The appellants asserted that properties (2) and (3), potentially worth millions of dollars, were left to no one and therefore belonged to them as beneficiaries of the residual estate. Representing the specifically named beneficiaries, GMSR persuaded the court that, in context, it was clear the testator intended to award all three properties to the named beneficiaries—there was no reason for him to list the properties at all if he had intended them to go to his residual estate.

Court of Appeal Opinion – View Document