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Felton v. Finley

Idaho Supreme Court
209 P. 2d 899 (1949)


Seigle Coleman died testate in 1943. Coleman’s will gave six of Coleman’s nieces and nephews $500 each, leaving the rest, aside from a $5,000 bequest to Wilbur Coleman, to charitable organizations. Coleman’s nephews, Seigle Finley and W.E. Finley, employed J.H. Felton (plaintiff) to contest the will on a 50 percent contingency basis. Felton initially told Seigle and W.E. that he would only accept the employment if Coleman’s other nephew, Orval Finley (defendant), as well as Coleman’s nieces (defendants), likewise employed Felton and participated in the contest. Orval and the nieces refused to join the contest. The contest was successful. The probate court, as well as the district court on appeal, found that the will was properly executed but that the clauses attempting to devise the property to charitable institutions were null and void. Consequently, the balance of the property was distributed to Coleman’s heirs, who were his nieces and nephews. Orval and the nieces accepted the distribution but refused to pay Felton his contingent share. Felton sued Orval and the nieces on an implied-contract theory. The trial court awarded judgment in Felton’s favor. Orval and the nieces appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Givens, J.)

Dissent (Holden, C.J.)

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