Opal Gefon died in November 2005, and a typewritten will that had been properly witnessed and…

Opal Gefon died in November 2005, and a typewritten will that had been properly witnessed and executed in May 6, 2005, was submitted for probate. Johnson, a great-niece of Gefon, filed a contest of the May 6 instrument, claiming that a holographic will had been executed in October 2005. The court admitted the holographic will for probate, but confusion arose about the meaning of two provisions in the will. One provision used the words “savings and checking account” in the First Team Bank in Heber Springs to the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc., and another referred to “the remainder of my savings and checking to the Native American Indians.” At the time of Gefon’s death, she had approximately $205,000 in savings accounts at First Arkansas Bank and Trust and $226,000 in cash in a safety deposit box at the same bank. Following a hearing, the court entered an order in which it found that Gefon intended that the $226,000 in cash located in her safety deposit box at the time of her death was part of her “savings” so that the references to “savings and checking account” and “remainder of my savings and checking” in the will included the $226,000 in cash. The court further found that the phrase “Native American Indians” referred to the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc., and that the phrase, “remainder of my savings and checking” was a residual clause with respect to those funds, and that after any specific bequests were made, the remaining amounts were to be distributed to the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc. Was this a correct ruling?

 

 

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