SW Legal studies in Business

Statement of Concern in Will Is Not a Condition Precedent
Description Appeals court held that a will made expressing concern over the possibility of death during a forthcoming trip did not make death on that trip a condition precedent necessary for the will to become effective. Years later, that will, with the condition not having occurred, was valid.
Topic Wills, Estates, and Trusts
Key Words Will; Contingency; Condition Precedent
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Franklin wrote a will in 1993 stating that her estate was to go to the Waltmans "in case I die on my way to & from Jersey." Franklin then made it to and from New Jersey safely and died six years later. In a contest over her estate, the trial court held that the will contained a condition precedent–dying on the trip to New Jersey–that was a contingency that had to occur for the will to be effective. Since the condition did not occur, the judge held that an earlier will, from 1975, was the will in effect. The Waltmans appealed.

Vacated and remanded. "A conditional or contingent will is one that takes effect only upon the satisfaction of a certain condition or happening of a specified contingency. If the condition is not satisfied, or the contingency fails, the will is rendered inoperative and void." However, courts do not regard a will as conditional when it is reasonable to infer that the testator was merely expressing a reason to make the will. In this case it appears that Franklin was making a new will as she was concerned about the trip to New Jersey; it does not appear that she intended for the Waltmans to be her heirs only if she should die on that trip.

Citation In re Estate of Franklin, 2001 WL 896635 (Ct. App., Tenn., 2001)

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