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In re Kearns’s Estate
California Supreme Court
225 P.2d 218 (1950)
George Kearns handwrote a will that left his entire estate to his fiancée, Emma Hammersmith (defendant), and made her the executor of his estate. The will also contained a provision stating that “I direct” Hammersmith to provide for Kearns’s nieces, Marjorie Mallarino and Lois Graham (the nieces) (plaintiffs), “as her judgment, kindness and honesty sees fit to do.” After Kearns died, the nieces claimed that the provision directing Hammersmith to provide for them created a trust, with Hammersmith as the trustee and the nieces as the trust beneficiaries. Hammersmith responded that the will gave her the entire estate to own directly, and that the later provision to provide for the nieces was merely a moral suggestion for how she should use the estate property. The nieces sought to introduce extrinsic evidence, i.e., evidence other than the will itself, that they claimed would show that Kearns intended to create a trust for their benefit. The probate court denied the request to present extrinsic evidence and ruled that the will’s instructions did not create a trust for the nieces’ benefit. The nieces appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, C. J.)
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