Brief Fact Summary. Appellee contends that she was a pretermitted heir and entitled to share in the distribution of her father’s estate. Appellants argue that extrinsic evidence should be admissible to show why the decedent intentionally omitted the Appellee from his will.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where no ambiguity appears on the face of a will, extrinsic evidence will not be allowed to show why a child was left out of a will by their parent.
Where the language of a will gives rise to an uncertainty as to whether a testator intentionally omitted to provide for a child or the issue of a deceased child, the intention of the testator may be ascertained by interpreting such language in the light of the circumstances under which the will was made, excluding the oral declarations of the testator.View Full Point of Law
Must the decedent’s intent be determined from the will itself or is extrinsic evidence admissible?
Was the Appellee a pretermitted heir in her father’s will?
If the intention to disinherit the Appellee appears within the four corners of the will and there are no uncertainties on the face of the will extrinsic evidence is not admissible.
Yes. Affirmed. There are no uncertainties on the face of the will and the decedent failed to mention the Appellee or his reason for failing to mention her and therefore Appellee is a pretermitted heir and entitled to inherit from her father’s estate.
Dissent. Extrinsic evidence should be admissible in this case because uncertainties do appear on the face of the will. The extrinsic evidence that was offered but rejected by the trial court showed the lack of relationship between the decedent and the Appellee, his daughter. The purpose of the pretermitted heir statute is not to limit the testator’s power to dispose of his property but rather to prevent any unintentional oversight.
Discussion. The Court follows its previous decisions in which extrinsic evidence was disallowed and finds that the Appellant failed to set forth a compelling reason why this should be changed.