Property I, Pages 244–249

White v. Brown

Supreme Court of Tennessee, December 27, 1977

Facts:

Mrs. Lide died and left a holographic will. The will appointed Perry to be her executrix, White to have her home to live in, and Perry to have her personal property. Lide did not specify the nature of the title. Lide had no children and two living sisters who quitclaimed their interest. White filed this action to obtain construction of the will, alleging that she is vested with a fee simple title to the home. Defendants contend that the will conveyed only a life estate.

Procedural History:

The Chancellor held that the will unambiguously conveyed only a life interest in the home to White. In accordance with the parties' desires, the Chancellor ordered the property sold and the proceeds distributed in designated shares among the beneficiaries.

Issue:

Did Lide convey a fee simple title to the home to plaintiff?

Rule:

It is assumed that the testator disposes of the whole of his estate if that is reasonable and consistent with the general scope and provisions of the will.

Holding:

Lide conveyed a fee simple title to plaintiff. Reversed and remanded.

Dissenting Opinion:

Lide gave the condition that it not be sold, implying that she just wanted plaintiff to live there for her life. This would only give plaintiff a life estate then.

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