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Estate of Trinka – Validity of a Will

“Hi, I’m Kent Berk. I’m an attorney at the Scottsdale, Arizona law firm of Berk Law Group, where we handle probate, trust, estate, and other types of matters. I want to explain today, what happened in the case of the estate of Trinka. This case involved a question over the validity of a will.

Trinka signed a will one day before he died. There were some questions of who was in the room, when he signed. In Arizona, you have to have three requirements for a will. First of all it has to be in writing, it has to be signed by the person, and has to be witnessed by at least two witnesses.

In this case there’s a question of whether one of the witnesses was actually in the room, at the time that Trinka signed the will. After litigation started over the validity of this will, 400 days later Trinka’s brother Ron who claimed to be in the room when Trinka signed the will, signed the will as a witness.

The question was whether the witness signing 400 days later, was a valid witness of the will. The court found that it wasn’t. Under the statute, the witness has to sign as a witness on the will within a reasonable time of actually witnessing the person sign the will, or witnessing the person acknowledge that that’s his signature, or acknowledge that that’s his will.

The court found that 400 days later was not “within a reasonable time.” One of the public policy reasons was that the court wants to make sure that when the witness signs the will attesting that that is the person’s signature, and that that is the person’s will, that they’re doing so based on an actual personal recollection, a distinct recollection of the witnessing of the will, rather than some faded memory.

In this particular case Trinka’s will was deemed invalid, and Ron Trinka didn’t receive the benefits that he otherwise would have under that particular will.

If you have any questions regarding the validity of a will, or have any questions regarding a probate, trust, or estate dispute out here in Arizona, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you.” – Kent Berk