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In re Estate of Bradley

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

April 24, 2018

In re the Matter of the Estate of: BARBARA JOY BRADLEY Deceased.
v.
BILLY R. WALKER, et al., Respondents/Appellees. GAIL BUSSBERG, Petitioner/Appellant,

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Mohave County No. S8015PB201600080 The Honorable Richard D. Lambert, Judge.

          Sippel Law Firm, PLLC, Kingman By Mark A. Sippel Counsel for Petitioner/Appellant.

          Garcia, Aguirre & Villarreal, PLC, Yuma By Alicia Z. Aguirre, Jacqueline R. Luger Counsel for Respondent/Appellee Everson.

          Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Kent E. Cattani and Judge Jennifer M. Perkins joined.

          OPINION

          JOHNSEN, Judge

         ¶1 Gail Bussberg appeals the superior court's judgment invalidating her stepmother's will under the two-witness requirement of Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 14-2502(A)(3) (2018).[1] We hold that a notary public who acknowledges the testator's signature may qualify as a witness under the statute, and reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 The material facts are undisputed. Barbara Bradley, then 76 years old and suffering from terminal cancer, signed a will that disposed of her property upon her death to her boyfriend, Billy Walker, and her stepdaughters, Bussberg and Sandra Estrada. Walker and Tamara Adamovich, who is a notary public, were present in Bradley's home when Bradley signed the will. Before Bradley signed the will, Adamovich asked Walker to leave the room so that she could speak privately to Bradley. After Adamovich concluded that Bradley was competent and under no duress, Walker returned, and both Adamovich and Walker watched Bradley sign the will. Walker then signed the will, followed by Adamovich, who executed an acknowledgement and stamped it with her notary seal.

         ¶3 The signatures appear on the will as follows:

Barbara J. Bradley agrees to t.he conditions of the directives or wishes prior to her death.
/s/
Billy R. Walker agrees to the directives or wishes of Barbara J. Bradley.
/s/
Acknowledgment State of Arizona County of ...

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