Estate of Russell
Supreme Court of California
444 P.2d 353 (1968)
Thelma L. Russell died testate with a validly executed holographic will. Thelma’s will left all of her real and personal property to Chester H. Quinn (defendant) and Roxy Russell, Thelma’s deceased dog. The will also left her ten-dollar gold piece and diamonds to Georgia Nan Russell Hembree (plaintiff), Thelma’s niece and only heir at law. Georgia petitioned for determination of heirship alleging that half of the estate should pass to her under the laws of intestacy because the devise to Roxy Russell lapsed since a dog is not statutorily entitled to take under a will. Georgia offered extrinsic evidence to show that Roxy Russell was a dog alive at the time the will was executed but deceased when Thelma died. Chester offered extrinsic evidence in order to show that Thelma intended that the entire estate pass to Chester with the understanding that he would take care of Roxy, rather than as an outright gift to the dog. The evidence in support of this assertion consisted primarily of testimony by Chester that he discussed with Thelma taking care of Roxy if anything happened to her. Georgia objected to this extrinsic evidence of Thelma’s intent as inadmissible because the gift to Roxy was clear and unambiguous. The trial court found that Thelma intended Chester to receive the entire estate and the bequest to Roxy merely indicated her wish that he would care for the dog after her death. Georgia appealed to the Supreme Court of California.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.