Tuesday, March 12, 2013

La Croix v. Senecal case brief

La Croix v. Senecal case brief summary
140 Conn. 311

SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff niece appealed the judgment of the Superior Court in Windham County (Connecticut), which held that the residuary devise and bequest to defendant beneficiary under the codicil was void, but that there was no resulting intestacy as to that portion of the residue because the gift thereof under the will was valid.

-Dupre had executed a will making a disposition to “my nephew, Nelson Lamoth of Taftville, Connecticut.”
-Under a month later, Dupre executed a codicil, however she only changed the manner in which she referred to her nephew.
-She wrote, “to my nephew Marcisse Lamoth of Taftville, Connecticut, also known as nelson Lamoth.”
-The distribution of her estate had remained the same.
-One of the witnesses to the codicil was Dupre’s wife.
-A statute invalidates a witness who is the spouse of the testator.
- Therefore the codicil was invalid.
-The court now considers whether the codicil revoked Dupre’s first will.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: The niece of the testatrix, who was left nothing, brought this action for a declaratory judgment as heir and next of kin. She challenged the validity of the will and codicil of her aunt, claiming that the failure of the codicil left the aunt intestate. The trial court disagreed.

On appeal, the court affirmed, holding that there was no room for doubt that the sole purpose of the testatrix in executing the codicil was, by making the very minor change in referring to her nephew, to eliminate any uncertainty as to his identity.

-Obviously, it was furthest from her intention to make any change in the disposition of her residuary estate.
-When the will and codicil were considered together, as they must be, to determine the intent of the testatrix, it was clear that her intention to revoke the will was conditioned upon the execution of a codicil which would be effective to continue the same disposition of her residuary estate.
-Therefore, when it developed that the gift under the codicil to the beneficiary was void, the conditional intention of the testatrix to revoke the will was rendered inoperative, and the gift to the beneficiary under the will continued in effect.

OUTCOME: The judgment of the trial court that no intestacy resulted by virtue of a failed codicil was affirmed.

LaCroix v. Senecal (Conn. 1953) [36 CB 260]: Testator executed will, and then executed codicil that substituted a residuary clause referring to her nephew both with his nickname and legal name.  A witness to the codicil triggered a purging statute defeating a gift in the original will.  Rule: DDR has long been accepted in CT, and there is no room for doubt that the testator here was executing a codicil to make a minor change not to disinherit a witness.  Thus, when the codicil voided a gift in the original will, the conditional intention of the testator was rendered inoperative and the gift under the will remained valid.

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1 comment:

  1. The codicil was not signed by Celestine Dupre's wife (obviously). It was signed by beneficiary Aurea Senecal's husband, an interested witness.


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