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In re Will of Allen

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

June 6, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE WILL OF JAMES PAUL ALLEN, Deceased.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 1 May 2017.

         Appeal by Caveators from order entered 14 September 2016 by Judge Jeffrey B. Foster in Beaufort County, No. 14 E 117 Superior Court.

          Ranee Singleton, PLLC, by Ranee Singleton, for propounder-appellee.

          Lanier, King & Paysour, PLLC, by Jeremy Clayton King and Steven F. Johnson, II, for caveators-appellants.

          ZACHARY, Judge.

         Hope Paiyton Robinson and Christian Ann Robinson (the caveators) appeal from an order granting summary judgment in favor of Melvin Ray Woolard (the propounder). On appeal, the caveators argue that the trial court erred by ruling that handwritten notes on a will executed by James Paul Allen (the decedent) constituted a valid holographic codicil to the decedent's will. We conclude that the caveators' argument has merit.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On 29 August 2002, the decedent executed a typewritten will drafted by Mr. William Mayo, an attorney who represented the decedent in his legal matters. The will was executed and sworn to by the decedent and two witnesses, and the parties do not dispute that it meets the requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 31-3.3 (2015) for a properly attested self-proving will. The will included, as relevant to this appeal, the following disposition of the decedent's property:

Article III
I will, devise and bequeath all of my real and personal property of every sort, kind and description, both tangible and intangible, wheresoever located, in fee simple absolute unto, RENA T. ROBINSON of 9096 Hwy 99 N, Pantego, N.C. 27860.
Article IV
In the event, RENA T. ROBINSON, does not survive me, I will and devise a life estate unto, MELVIN RAY WOOLARD, in all real property located in Beaufort, Hyde and Washington Counties with a vested remainder therein unto HOPE PAIYTON ROBINSON and CHRISTIAN ANN ROBINSON, in equal shares, in fee simple absolute, subject to the life estate herein devised unto MELVIN RAY WOOLARD.
Article V
In the event, RENA T. ROBINSON, does not survive me, I will and bequeath, all remaining real and personal property both tangible and intangible, wheresoever located, to include all farming equipment unto ...

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