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MILLER WILL. (05/11/64)

May 11, 1964

IN RE MILLER WILL.


Appeal, No. 42, March T., 1964, from decree of Orphans' Court of Indiana County, Dec. T., 1962, No. 91, in re estate of Clara Edna Miller, deceased. Decree affirmed. Appeal from decision of register of wills admitting to probate an alleged will. Decree entered dismissing appeal, opinion by CLARK, P.J. Heir under Intestate Act appealed.

COUNSEL

David R. Tomb, Jr., with him Milford L. McBride, Jr., and McBride and McBride, for appellant.

James M. Arensberg, with him Patterson, Crawford, Arensberg & Dunn, for University of Pittsburgh, appellee.

Henry C. Herchenroether, Jr., with him Donald M. Miller, and Miller, Buterbaugh & Cope, and Alter, Wright & Barron, for Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 414 Pa. Page 386]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS

On the front side of a commercial, printed will form, decedent, Clara Edna Miller, in her own handwriting,

[ 414 Pa. Page 387]

    directed the payment of her debts and made several charitable bequests which apparently disposed of her entire estate. On the reverse side, an executor was appointed. Following these provisions, the will form contained a blank line for the signature of testatrix and the word "(SEAL)." Clara Edna Miller did not write her signature on this line. Immediately below it, in the printed attestation clause, she signed her name and completed the form as follows:

"Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above named Clara Edna Miller 1 as and for my*fn1 last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who have hereunto subscribed our names at - request as witnesses thereto in the presence of the said Testat - and of each other.

(s) Harry W. Akins

(s) Mary M. Akins"*fn2

Decedent died on September 17, 1962, and this writing was admitted to probate by the Register of Wills of Indiana County. Wilma Power, an intestate heir, appealed to the Orphans' Court of Indiana County on the ground that decedent did not sign the instrument at the end thereof. The University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary of the United Presbyterian Church, beneficiaries under the writing, filed answers to the petition sur appeal.

The court below held: "It is the opinion of this Court ... that this signature is written at the end of the will and that the document itself so indicates; that Clara Edna Miller meant it to be her signature and therefore we conclude that the Register of Wills acted

[ 414 Pa. Page 388]

    properly when he admitted this document to probate." This appeal followed.

Section 2 of the Wills Act of 1947, April 24, P.L. 89, 20 P.S. ยง 180.2, mandates: "Every will ... shall be in writing and shall be signed by the testator at the end thereof. ..." Recently, in Kretz Estate, 410 Pa. 590, 189 A.2d 239 (1963), we again had occasion to construe this provision of the Act. "The end contemplated by the Act is not the point which is physically furthest from the beginning of the writing. As we said in Kehr Will, 373 Pa. 473, 479, 95 A.2d 647 (1953): '"The end contemplated by the statute is the logical end of the language used by decedent in expressing his testamentary purpose,"' or, as was said in Coyne Will, 349 Pa. 331, 333, 37 A.2d 509 (1944): '"... there must be a sequence of pages or paragraphs which relates to its logical and internal sense, and the signature must be placed at the sequential end."'": Kretz Estate, supra, at 595, 189 A.2d at 242.

By these standards, the failure of decedent to sign her name on the line provided in the printed form does not, of itself, constitute a failure to comply with the requirements of the Act.

Appellant relies upon Churchill's Estate, 260 Pa. 94, 103 Atl. 533 (1918).*fn3 In that case, as here, the testator failed to sign on the printed line provided in the commercial form. Testator wrote his own name in the attestation clause and completed the blanks as follows:

"Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the above named P. Churchill, as and for his last Will and Testament, in the ...


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