Monday, November 11, 2013

Arnheiter v. Arnheiter case brief

Arnheiter v. Arnheiter case brief summary
125 A.2d 914 (1956)

Plaintiff executrix sought to correct a scrivener's error in her decedent's last will and testament that referenced the wrong street address on a specific devise of real property to certain beneficiaries.


Decedent left a last will and testament that specifically devised a parcel of real property to certain beneficiaries. The will referenced an erroneous house number for the street address describing the property. Plaintiff executrix applied to the court to correct the mistake and to change the street number in the will to the proper address.


  • The court noted that it did not have the power to correct or reform a will or change any of the language in it by substituting or adding words. 
  • Instead, the court granted relief to plaintiff by construing the will provision under the doctrine falsa demonstratio non nocet, which holds that where a description of a thing or person consisted of several particulars and all of them did not fit any one person or thing, less essential particulars could be rejected provided the remainder of the description clearly fit. 
  • By applying this doctrine, the court dropped the house number and, because the decedent only owned one parcel of real property on the described street, and did not otherwise dispose of it in any other provision of the will, was able to conclude that the remaining description of the property was sufficient to identify the property.


The court granted relief to plaintiff executrix by construing her decedent's will under the doctrine of falsa demonstratio non nocet, thereby sufficiently identifying the property meant to pass by specific devise.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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