6.6 Other “Exceptions” to the Plain Meaning Rule
Not rising to an exception to the plain meaning rule per se, there are Maryland cases that permit direct extrinsic evidence of a testator’s intent nevertheless. In one case, a will was challenged solely based on whether it properly followed the testamentary formalities and whether that document was, in fact, an expression of the testatrix’s last wishes. The testatrix was ill, facing surgery, and had executed two wills within two days of each other. The wills were dramatically different from each other. The second will was upheld despite the fact that the last name of a legatee had been crossed out and a new name substituted by hand in the will. The Court based its ruling that the second will was valid on the parol evidence offered by witnesses to the will that the actual intent of the testatrix as expressed to them was reflected in the second will not in the first will. Additionally, because the second will was more in line with the testatrix’s older wills this likewise demonstrated that she would have wanted to have the provisions that were contained in the second will apply at her death.
In another case, where the testatrix signed a document purporting to be her will when she was ill and under the influence of narcotics, the will challenge was based on whether the decedent knew the contents of the document that she had signed. That, in turn, raised the issue of what she had attempted to accomplish with her will (what her intent was) and whether the signed document accomplished that intent. The Court held that in these “unusual and exceptional” circumstances, extrinsic evidence of the draftsman’s error could be used to support the contention that she had not read and understood her will before signing it thus not having it admitted to probate.
 Gage v. Hooper, 165 Md. 527, 169 A. 925 (1934).