Wright v. Nugent

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation328 A.2d 362,23 Md.App. 337
Docket NumberNo. 413,413
PartiesSuzanne Walker WRIGHT v. George Ainslie NUGENT, Personal Representative of the Estate of Aldace Freeman Walker.
Decision Date15 November 1974

Page 337

23 Md.App. 337
328 A.2d 362
Suzanne Walker WRIGHT
George Ainslie NUGENT, Personal Representative of the Estate
of Aldace Freeman Walker.
No. 413.
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
Nov. 15, 1974.

[328 A.2d 364]

Page 338

William H. Price, II, Easton, and W. N. Harrell Smith, Washington, D. C., with whom was Gene Perry Bond, Washington, D. C., on the brief, for appellant.

John W. Sause, Jr., Centreville, with whom were Walter W. Clagett, Sidney S. Campen, Jr., and W. Ben Wilson, Easton, on the brief, for appellee.

Argued before ORTH, C. J., and POWERS and DAVIDSON, JJ.

Page 339


ORTH, Chief Judge.

This case comes to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland directly from the Orphans' Court for Talbot County (Orphans' Court). Courts Art. § 12-501. Suzanne Walker Wright, appellant, the only child of Aldace Freeman Walker, deceased, noted an appeal on 8 May 1974 from an order of the Orphans' Court issued 9 April 1974 in a proceeding entitled 'Estate of Aldace Freeman Walker', docketed as Estate No. 10850. 1 The order read:

'The above matter coming on for hearing on the objections of Suzanne Walker Wright to the jurisdiction of this Court in the above matter and counsel for Suzanne Walker Wright, Elizabeth Irwin Hazard and George Ainslie Nugent having been heard, it is this 9th day of April 1974, by the Orphans' Court for Talbot County.

ADJUDGED and ORDERED as follows:

1. The largest part in value of decedent's estate was located in Talbot County at the time of his death, as appears on the Inventory filed herein. 2 It is therefore determined that this Court has

Page 340

jurisdiction to grant probate to any Will of the decedent, whether or not decedent was domiciled in Talbot County at the time of his death, in accordance with the Estates and Trusts Article, Annotated [328 A.2d 365] Code of Maryland including Sections 4-104 and 5-103(A) and (B).

2. The pendency of proceedings in the United States District Court for District of Columbia does not affect the jurisdiction of this Court, the issue in the District being whether the holographic Will should be accepted for probate under the law of the District of Columbia, and the issue in this Court is whether the Will should be accepted for probate under the law of the State of Maryland.

3. Issues filed herein on March 4, 1974 by George Ainslie Nugent and on March 5, 1974 by Elizabeth Irwin Hazard, are hereby sent to the Circuit Court for Talbot County for determination in accordance with Estates and Trusts Article, Section 2-105.'

We affirm parts (1) and (2) of the order. Part (3) is not before us, having been superseded by a subsequent order of the Orphans' Court. 3


On 24 July 1973 the Register of Wills for Talbot County granted the will of Aldace Freeman Walker to probate under

Page 341

administrative probate proceedings and appointed George Ainslie Nugent personal representative of the estate. Estates & Trusts Art. §§ 5-301, 5-302, 5-303. 4 The Administrative Probate Order was predicated upon a request for probate contained in a petition filed by Nugent. The petition showed that Walker, domiciled in the District of Columbia, died on 2 May 1973 at Arlington, Virginia, with a will dated 8 April 1973, appointing Nugent as executor. The will was holographic, written on a sheet from a yellow legal pad, and read as follows:

'5236 Macomb Street N. W.

'Washington, D. C.

'Sunday-April 8th, 1973

'I, Aldace Freeman Walker, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.

'I desire and direct upon my death, that all my property, personal and real, of which I might die possessed be placed in a TRUST, the income of which is to be placed at the disposal of Elizabeth Irwin Hazard during the course of her natural life and that upon her death that the corpus of said TRUST be made payable to my grandson, Andrew Wright, or in the event of his demise to be made payable to my daughter, Suzanne Walker Wright.

'I appoint George Ainslie Nugent to be the Executor of my Estate to serve without bond.'

'Aldace Freeman Walker'

Appended to the Petition was the affidavit of an attorney at law, admitted to practice before all the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He asserted: 'Under the [328 A.2d 366] laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia a will written wholly in the handwriting of the testator and signed by him is a valid will.

Page 342

Also there is no requirement under Virginia law that a will bear a seal. Accordingly, if the will is written wholly in the handwriting of Aldace Freeman Walker and was executed by him in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is my opinion that such a will is a validly executed will under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.'

There was also attached to the Petition the affidavit of Nugent, which, after discussing his friendship with Walker, Walker's relationship with Mrs. Hazard and Walker's state of health, recounted the circumstances of the execution of the will:

'Mr. Walker had been giving serious thought and study to making a new testamentary disposition of his property and had concluded that the most acceptable solution for the purposes he had in mind would be a will leaving his property in trust, with the income to go to his friend Mrs. Hazard during her lifetime, and upon her death, the corpus to his grandson, Andrew Wright, the son of his daughter Suzanne Wright. The trust which Mr. Walker had in mind was quite a complicated one and would have taken considerable time to properly draft in order to take care of his detailed wishes. Accordingly, while in my apartment on Sunday evening, April 8, 1973, he decided out of an abundance of caution, to execute a will which would express his wishes on a stop gap basis. Before he came North on this particular visit, he had purchased and brought with him two books on trusts and wills entitled 'Who Will Get Your Money' by John Barnes (William Morrow & Co., Inc. 1972) and 'Your Will And What To Do About It' by Samuel G. Kling (Wilshire Book Company, 1972). He sat down at my dining room table and I watched him as he wrote out the holographic will. Mr. Walker signed the will which he had written in my presence without any witness attesting in writing to his signature.'

Page 343

See Estates & Trusts Art. § 4-104. The affidavit stated that the will was left by Walker in Nugent's care and, although Walker told Nugent several times that 'he would come back and get the document so that it could be put in better shape', Walker died before so doing. Insofar as Nugent knew, Walker never executed any other will subsequent to 8 April 1973. The Petition discussed other proceedings regarding the decedent's estate:

'The decedent had two bank accounts in the District of Columbia at the time of his death; a savings account containing $5,759.95, and a checking account containing $1,106.33. The decedent had executed a prior will dated July 12, 1960; and this prior will, together with a copy of the holographic will dated April 8, 1973, have been filed with the Register of Wills in the District of Columbia. The decedent's daughter (Suzanne Walker Wright) has filed a complaint praying that neither of these wills be admitted to probate in the District of Columbia. In view of the provisions set forth in Article 93, Section 4-104 and Section 5-103(a), it was deemed that the facts as to the execution of the will and the bulk of the estate of the decedent at the time of his death indicated Talbot County, Maryland was the proper jurisdiction for the probate of the Last Will and Testament of the decedent, dated April 8, 1973.' 5

[328 A.2d 367] Nugent duly qualified as personal representative.

Page 344

On 17 January 1974 Suzanne Walker Wright, individually, and as natural guardian for her infant son, Andrew Wright, filed a petition for the removal of Nugent as personal representative and, on the same date, also filed a petition for judicial probate and a caveat, alleging the incompetence of the testator and undue influence exercised upon him. 6 Estates & Trusts Art. §§ 5-401 and 5-207. This petition further alleged that the Orphans' Court 'has no jurisdiction to entertain original probate of either the July 12, 1960 executed carbon copy, the April 8, 1973 unwitnessed writing, or any other writing made by Aldace Freeman Walker that may be discovered.' The Orphans' Court conducted a plenary hearing on 6 March 1974 and on 9 April issued the order from which this appeal was taken.

On 24 April 1974 Suzanne Walker Wright filed another petition for the revocation of the letters of administration and appointment of George Ainslie Nugent. The docket entries of the Orphans' Court show under date of 3 May 1974 that the petition for revocation of letters of administration and appointment of Nugent was denied.


The basic question in this case concerns the jurisdiction of the Orphans' Court to admit to original probate a will executed in Virginia by a person domiciled in the District of Columbia who died in Virginia owning property in Maryland. As we see it, the only issue properly before us is whether the Orphans' Court has jurisdiction to grant judicial probate to the paper writing of 8 April 1973. If it did, then, collateral to the issue is whether the Court was obliged to defer to proceedings in the District of Columbia.

The law is that any action taken after administrative probate shall be final and binding as to all interested persons unless a request for judicial probate has been filed within 6 months of administrative probate. Estates & Trusts

Page 345

Art. § 5-304(a). Section 5-402(a) declares that a proceeding for judicial probate is mandatory when so requested by an interested person. Here appellant, as an interested person, made timely request for judicial probate. On 5 February 1974 the Register of Wills gave notice as prescribed by § 5-403 to all persons interested in the estate that 'A Petition has been filed in this Court by...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 cases
  • Green v. McClintock, 929
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 1, 2014
    ...the largest part in value of the property of the decedent in Maryland was located at the time of his death.Accord Wright v. Nugent, 23 Md.App. 337, 353, 328 A.2d 362 (1974), aff'd,275 Md. 290, 338 A.2d 898 (1975) (per curiam) (holding that Talbot County was the proper venue for administrati......
  • Shipp v. Autoville Ltd., 253
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 22, 1974
    ...before he instituted the criminal prosecution. He could not with impunity ignore it. A failure to investigate may destroy probable cause. [328 A.2d 362] Montgomery Ward & Company, Inc. v. Keulemans, Md.App., 326 A.2d 45, filed October 16, 1974. See Durante v. Braun, supra. We find that the ......
  • Vangarck, Axelson & Williamowsky v. Estate, Abbasi, CIV. PJM 02-2662.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • May 1, 2003
    ...largest part in value of the property of the decedent in Maryland was located at the time of his death."). See also Wright v. Nugent, 23 Md.App. 337, 352-53, 328 A.2d 362, 371 (1974) (concluding that the Orphans' Court had jurisdiction to admit for probate a holographic will of a decedent d......
  • Eastgate Associates v. Apper, 156
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • February 3, 1976
    ...701 Md. 268, 275, 297 A.2d 735 (1972); Harford Sands, Inc. v. Levitt & Sons, 27 Md.App. 702, 706, 343 A.2d 544 (1975); Wright v. Nugent, 23 Md.App. 337, 356, 328 A.2d 362 (1974). But cf. Keystone Eng. Corp. v. Sutter, 196 Md. 620, 78 A.2d 191 (1951); Kendall Lumber Co. v. State, 132 Md. 93,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT