Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ruotolo v. Tietjen case brief

Ruotolo v. Tietjen case brief summary
890 A.2d 166 (2006)

The Superior Court, Judicial District of New Haven (Connecticut), affirmed a judgment of the probate court which found that Connecticut's testamentary antilapse statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-441, was inoperative as to a bequest to a legatee. Defendant, a beneficiary, appealed the judgment.


The will's residuary clause bequeathed half of the estate residue to a legatee, if she survived the decedent. The legatee died shortly before the decedent. The beneficiary was the child of the deceased legatee. The probate court concluded that, as Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-441 was not operative, the bequest to the legatee lapsed and passed to the intestate estate.


  • The appellate court held that the antilapse statute was enacted to prevent operation of the rule of lapse and unintended disinheritance. 
  • Therefore, words of survivorship such as "if she survives me" alone did not constitute a "provision" in the will for the contingency of the death of a beneficiary, as the statute required, and thus were insufficient to negate operation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-441. 
  • Should a testator desire to avoid application of the antilapse statute, the testator had to either unequivocally express that intent or simply provide for an alternate bequest. 
  • Because the testator in the present case did neither, the appellate court held that the protections of the antilapse statute applied. 
  • Accordingly, the bequest to the legatee did not lapse, but rather descended to the beneficiary.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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