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In re Estate of McFarland

167 S.W.3d 299 (2005)

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In re Estate of McFarland

Tennessee Supreme Court

167 S.W.3d 299 (2005)

Facts

Merle McFarland’s will stated that the residuary of her estate, i.e., the property left after all the specific gifts had been distributed, should be divided equally among 18 listed beneficiaries. Three of these beneficiaries died before McFarland, which meant that the gifts to those three people lapsed. None of these three beneficiaries left behind a spouse or any living children or grandchildren. After McFarland’s death, the 15 surviving residuary beneficiaries and the estate administrator (plaintiffs) claimed that the residue of McFarland’s estate should be divided into 15 shares for the remaining listed beneficiaries. However, McFarland’s legal heirs (defendants) argued that the residuary should be divided into the listed 18 shares, with the three lapsed shares going to McFarland’s legal heirs in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, i.e., with those three portions being distributed as if McFarland had not left a will. The probate court found that the three lapsed shares should be distributed to McFarland’s heirs under the intestacy laws. The estate appealed the ruling.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barker, J.)

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