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Thompson v. Royall

Supreme Court of Virginia
175 S.E. 748 (1934)


Facts

In September 1932, M. Lou Bowen Kroll executed a will and then a codicil to her will, both duly signed and attested. The will was kept in the possession of the executor and the codicil in the possession of the attorney who drafted both documents. Four days after executing the codicil, Kroll, who had instructed the executor and her attorney to come to her home with her will and codicil, asked them to destroy both documents in her presence. Her attorney advised her to retain the will as a memorandum to rely on when drafting a new will and instead of destroying the will, her attorney made a notation on the back of the cover page to the will and the back of the page on which the codicil was written. Each notation stated that the will or codicil was null and void and indicated in whose possession the document would be retained only as a memorandum. Kroll signed both notations. Kroll died on October 2, 1932 without executing a new will. After some of the beneficiaries named in the will and codicil (defendants) sought to have both documents probated, a proceeding was commenced to determine whether the will and codicil were properly revoked. A jury decided that the will and codicil were enforceable as Kroll’s last will. The court sustained the jury’s verdict and that order was appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia on the ground that the notations cancelled the will and codicil as required by the statute.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hudgins, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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