Zhao v. Wong

47 Cal.Rptr.2d 707 (1995)


Tai was a successful 44-year-old businessman who had a history of good health. He was living with his girlfriend, D, and he enjoyed a close and loving relationship with his large family. Tai and D lived together and worked together for the last three years of Tai's life. On New Year's Eve in 1992, he took ill and died in a hospital emergency room of unexplained causes. A sealed envelope, decorated with stickers and containing a handwritten note which read 'All Tai-Kin Wong's Xi Zhao, my best half TKW 12-31-92,' was found in Tai's office. D had made no effort to find a will at the residence she shared with Tai. Instead, on January 18, 1993, two weeks after Tai's funeral, D, Roy Tottingham, Dr. Gin Wu (a TTI employee) and Heston Chau (an old friend of Tai's) searched Tai's office. They divided the papers into business documents and personal papers and placed them in separate boxes. They found a sealed envelope in one of Tai's desk drawers. D could not remember which one nor who saw it first. The upper left hand corner contained Tai's address label, the center of the envelope bore two stickers: a rainbow with the words 'You're Special,' and a rainbow with the words 'Love You.' This sealed envelope was placed in the box of Tai's personal papers which itself was sealed. Later the sealed box was placed in P's office where it remained unopened. Eventually, the box and letter were opened. D filed a petition for probate of the purported will. P filed a will contest. The trial court determined it to be a holographic will, passing Tai's entire estate to D. Tai's father, P, brought this appeal.