In the Matter of the Estate of Jacquelynn D. Blikre
Sharron Jensen, Respondent and Appellant Jean Nordahl, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Jacquelynn D. Blikre, Deceased, Petitioner and Appellee and Jennifer Jensen, Interested Party and Appellant and Tamara Engle, Interested Party
from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Richard L. Hagar, Judge.
Charles (Casey) L. Chapman, Bismarck, N.D., for petitioner
D. Cook (argued) and Sara K. Sorenson (on brief), West Fargo,
N.D., for appellants.
Sharron and Jennifer Jensen appeal district court orders: (1)
admitting a copy of Jacquelynn Blikre's will to formal
probate; (2) ruling Blikre's will was valid; and (3)
denying a petition for formal probate of Blikre's alleged
holographic will. We affirm.
Blikre executed a will in 2005. The will left Blikre's
estate, including real property and minerals, to her sister,
Sandra Nordahl, and named Nordahl personal representative of
the estate. Blikre's other sister, Sharron Jensen, was
excluded from the will.
In April 2016, Blikre was hospitalized after suffering from
several health issues. In May 2016, she was moved to a
Bismarck nursing home and resided there until her death in
September 2016. While she was hospitalized, Blikre appointed
Sharron Jensen as Blikre's attorney-in-fact for financial
matters. Blikre had also appointed Sandra Nordahl's
husband, Jean Nordahl, as Blikre's attorney-in-fact under
a durable power of attorney in March 2016.
After Blikre's death, Sandra Nordahl petitioned for
formal probate of Blikre's will. Nordahl attached a copy
of the will to the petition because the original will was
missing. Jensen objected to Nordahl's petition, claiming
Blikre's will should be considered revoked because the
original was missing. The district court appointed Nordahl
personal representative subject to a decision on whether the
copy of Blikre's will would be admitted to probate.
Sandra Nordahl died after her appointment as personal
representative. Jean Nordahl petitioned for appointment as
successor personal representative. Jensen also petitioned for
appointment. At an October 2017 hearing, the parties
presented evidence on the existence of Blikre's will and
whether she intended to revoke it before her death. In
February 2018, the district court entered an order finding
sufficient evidence existed to rebut the presumption that
Blikre intended to revoke her will. The court ordered formal
probate of the copy of Blikre's will and appointed Jean
Nordahl as personal representative.
In April 2018, Sharron Jensen appealed the district
court's order, and Jennifer Jensen petitioned for formal
probate of a holographic will and to vacate the February 2018
order admitting the copy of Blikre's will to probate.
Jennifer Jensen's petition alleged Blikre wrote
instructions in 2016 relating to her estate. Jensen claimed
the handwritten documents were a holographic will that
revoked the 2005 will and distributed Blikre's estate to
her sisters and nieces. This Court remanded for the limited
purpose of consideration and disposition of Jennifer
In December 2018, Jennifer and Sharron Jensen moved for
partial summary judgment. They argued Blikre's will was
invalid because it was not executed in front of two witnesses
as required under N.D.C.C. § 30.1-08-02. They also
claimed Blikre's handwritten documents were a holographic
will that revoked and replaced her earlier will. Jean Nordahl
disputed Jensen's assertions. After an evidentiary
hearing, the district court dismissed Jensen's petition,
finding Blikre's handwritten documents did not express
her testamentary intent to distribute her estate and did not
revoke her 2005 will. The court also found Blikre's 2005
will was valid because credible evidence showed the will was
executed in front of two witnesses.
Jennifer and Sharron Jensen argue the district court's
February 2018 order for formal probate of the copy of
Blikre's will should be vacated. They claim Blikre's
2005 will was invalid because it was not executed in front of
two witnesses. They assert that even if the will was validly
executed, Blikre revoked her will and replaced it with a
holographic will. They also argue Jean Nordahl failed to
rebut the presumption that Blikre's 2005 will was
Wills are governed by N.D.C.C. ch. 30.1-08. Under N.D.C.C.
§ 30.1-08-02(1)(c)(1), a testator must sign a will in
the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will.
"The right to make a will disposing of one's
property is statutory and unless a testator complies with the
prescribed statutory ...