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In re Tipler’s Will

Tennessee Court of Appeals
10 S.W.3d 244 (1998)


Facts

The decedent, Gladys Tipler, executed a will leaving her estate to her husband, if he survived her. Tipler later executed a holographic codicil to the will, which provided that if her husband predeceased her, Tipler’s estate should be distributed according to the terms of her husband’s will. Under § 32-1-105 of the Tennessee code, all of the material provisions of a holographic will must be in the testator’s handwriting in order to be valid. When Tipler executed the codicil, her husband had not yet executed his will. Tipler’s husband predeceased her. After Tipler’s death, the beneficiaries under her husband’s will (plaintiffs) petitioned the probate court to enforce the codicil to Tipler’s will, and Tipler’s heirs (defendants) objected. Testimony established that Tipler was not close to her family, and considered her husband’s family to be her family. The trial court held that the doctrine of independent significance was satisfied because Tipler’s husband’s will had its own significance apart from affecting the disposition of Tipler’s estate, which was to distribute his own estate. The trial court found that, under the codicil, Tipler’s estate should therefore be distributed according to Tipler’s husband’s will. Tipler’s heirs appealed, arguing that the holographic codicil was not valid because not all of its material provisions were in Tipler’s handwriting.

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Holding and Reasoning (Lillard, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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