Probate Denied For 5-Page Document In The Decedent’s Handwriting: It’s A Letter, Not A Will 

The decedent was a widow with no family. She had a close relationship with her neighbors. Shortly after a birthday party for the neighbors’ daughter, she handed the neighbors a check for $100, along with a 5-page document the decedent signed using her nickname, “A.J.” At trial, there was no dispute that the decedent possessed testamentary capacity, or that she had prepared the hand-written document. It was addressed to the neighbors “and all who helped A.J. out.” The trial judge found that the document possessed a certain formality, with the decedent referring to herself in the third person. It offered words of thanks to the neighbors, discussed various issues including the cost of living in New Jersey and her plans to move to an assisted living facility out of state. It stated, And, of course I wish – like if suddenly I died or something without the will that you folks could have my house even. It ended with “cheers for now”…

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