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Law School Case Brief

Green v. Young - 163 Tenn. 16, 40 S.W.2d 793 (1931)


A presumption applies that a testator intended to dispose of his entire estate, and not to die intestate, either as to the whole, or any part thereof, or interest therein.


The testator's will stated that all of her real estate and personal property was bequeathed to her husband "to be used by him for his support and comfort during his life." After the testator died, the husband sold the property to the owners. After the husband died, plaintiff heirs at law asserted title to the property and filed an action against defendant owners who the purchased property. The heirs at law contended that the testator only intended to grant her husband a life estate and that the remainder was to pass to the heirs at law upon his death. The Chancery Court of Dyer County (Tennessee) dismissed the action. The heirs at law appealed. 


Were the heirs at law entitled to the property?




The Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed the judgment. The Court held that the will passed the entire estate to the husband because the testator had no children, and the Court thought that that it was fair to assume that the primary, if not the exclusive, interest of the testator was in her husband instead of her very numerous collateral kindred, many of who resided in remote sections of the country and with many of whom, it was assumed, she had no acquaintance. The Court also stated that, under Tenn. Code § 3672, any doubt in the will was to be resolved in favor of an absolute estate and that there was a presumption that the testator intended to dispose of her entire estate through her will.

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