Monday, April 29, 2013

Williams v. Estate of Williams case brief

Williams v. Estate of Williams case brief
865 S.W.2d 3

CASE SYNOPSIS: Defendants, heirs of the decedent, sought review of a decision from the Court of Appeals (Tennessee), which affirmed the judgment of a chancery court in an action to construe the will of the decedent. The action was brought by plaintiff, the decedent's surviving daughter who was named as a beneficiary in decedent's will.

FACTS: The decedent's will bequeathed his farm to three of his daughters, including the surviving daughter. The surviving daughter and the other daughters maintained possession of the farm during their lives, and the other daughters had predeceased her. The surviving daughter brought the action to construe the will, and the chancery court and the court of appeals ruled that the three daughter's had each received a one-third undivided interest in fee simple in the farm, instead of only receiving a life estate.

The court reversed, finding that the predominant intention of the decedent was clear that the three daughters were to share the farm equally so long as they were living and unmarried.

The court stated that the testator's statement that he was favoring the daughters above the other children because they had stayed at home and taken care of their mother implicitly recognized that each had foregone the opportunity to become self-supporting or be supported by a husband, and by the decedent's limiting the duration of the devise to such time as a daughter should marry, indicated that the devise was intended to be a substitute for support that might otherwise have been available.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that the heirs-at-law of the decedent held a reversion in fee simple, subject to the determinable life estates and the executory interests in the named daughters, which reversion would vest in possession, at the latest, upon the death of the surviving daughter.
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