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Folsom v. Rowell

Georgia Supreme Court
640 S.E.2d 5 (2007)


Howard Folsom had six children; the youngest, Alma Folsom, had mental disabilities. In his will, Howard left all of his property to Alma in a life estate. Further, the will stated that upon Alma’s death, the property would go to all of his children who took care of Alma during her life. The will stated that if none of the other children provided for Alma, the property would go to whoever did. From 1960 to 1973, Alma lived with her sister Lillian Rowell, and Rowell’s children (Rowell heirs). Subsequently, Rowell died. From 1973 to 1994, Alma lived with Mitchell Folsom, the widow of one of Alma’s brothers. From 1994 until 2001, Alma lived with Linda Smith, Howard’s granddaughter. During this time, Smith and Mitchell cared for Alma. In addition, Howard’s grandsons (Folsom heirs) (defendants) performed house maintenance for Alma but did not provide direct care. Alma died in 2001. One of the Rowell heirs (plaintiff) was appointed administrator de bonis non of Howard’s estate. The administrator filed a motion for construction of the portion of Howard’s will dealing with property distribution after Alma’s death. The probate court transferred the case to superior court. The Folsom heirs also filed a motion for construction of the will. Smith filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The superior court found that only the Rowell heirs could take property under the will and denied Smith’s motion for partial summary judgment. The Folsom heirs and Smith both appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Carley, J.)

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