Estate Of Duke – Filed December 5, 2011, Second District, Div. Four Cite As 2011 S.o.s. 6501
Sacks Glazier Franklin & Lodise , led by partner Meg Lodise, successfully moved for summary judgment on a petition for determination of heirship and defended the trial court result on appeal on behalf of two brothers who, despite not being named in their uncle’s will, were deemed the lawful heirs. In the recently published Estate of Duke, the testator provided for his wife and two charitable organizations in a holographic will, in the event he predeceased his wife, or if he and his wife died at the same time. The testator also included a disinheritance clause, upon the occurrence of anyone contesting the will’s provisions. However, there was no disposition in the event the testator outlived his wife, which is what ultimately occurred. A California Court of Appeal determined that since the will did not account for the situation that actually transpired, it was to be treated as if he died without a will. The Court reiterated that since the result was complete intestacy, outside evidence is inadmissible to provide further explanation, even where the deceased specifically included a disinheritance clause in the will. The Court further deemed that any alleged oral declaration of the deceased’s intent could not be used to supply omitted terms of the will.