Arnheiter v. Arnheiter

The Facts

  • T died in Dec 1953
  • T’s will was admitted to probate
  • T’s will  said that the executrix was to sell T’s interest in a piece of property and use the proceeds to set up trusts for each of T’s 2 nieces
  • She referred to the property as “304 Harrison Ave.”
  • T in fact only owned interest in “317 Harrison Ave.”

Procedural History

  • E brought action to have court correct T’s mistaken identification of the property

The Issue

Whether the court can correct the will

The Rule

  • A court has no power to correct or reform a will or change any of the language therein by substituting or adding words.

The Holding/Disposition

  • No
  • Court gives E another recourse that would allow for the correction

Court’s Reasoning

  • While the court says they can’t do as E requests, they give her another option: falsa demonstratio non nocet
  • This doctrine, meaning “mere erroneous description does not vitiate”, the erroneous particular of a description can be discarded
  • This would leave the will as referring only to “Harrison Ave.” and since T owned only one piece of property on Harrison Ave., it is inferred/implied that this is the property to which T was referring, provided she makes no other references specifically to the property elsewhere in the will

Leave a Reply