Monday, November 11, 2013

In re Will of Ranney case brief

In re Will of Ranney case brief summary
589 A.2d 1339 (1991)

Appellant will contestant sought review of the order of the Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey), reversing the order of the chancery court, which had reversed an order to probate the will.


Decedent executed an instrument purporting to be his last will and testament, but the two witnesses, required by N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:3-2 to sign the attestation clause of the will, only executed an attached self-proving affidavit. On decedent's death, the will was ordered to be probated, but the chancery court reversed, on appellant will contestant's motion, finding the attesting witnesses had not strictly complied with the requirements of § 3B:3-2. Respondent will proponent brought the matter before the appellate division, which reversed, ruling that the self-proving affidavit was part of the will and that the witnesses' signatures thereon constituted signatures on the will.


  • Appellant sought review of the appellate division's order of probate, and the court affirmed. 
  • Although it held that signatures on the self-proving affidavit did not comply with the requirements of § 3B:3-2, probate was proper, where an instrument substantially complied with the requirements of the law. 
  • It remanded the cause to the trial court for hearing to determine whether the decedent's instrument was in substantial compliance with §3B:3-2 and, if so, for the instrument to be probated as a will.

The court affirmed the order of the lower court, approving decedent's will to be probated, over the objections of appellant will contestant. The court held that probate was proper where an instrument substantially complied with the requirements of the probate law even if it did not strictly comply with the law.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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