Mahoney v. Grainger

The Facts

  • T’s residuary clause gave the residue of her estate to her heirs at law at the time of her death
  • The sole HAL at the time of T’s death was her maternal aunt, who was still living when case was decided
  • T had a friendly and cordial relationship w/ her aunt and first cousins
  • T’s will left several legacies to two of her first cousins
  • T told L she wanted her 25 first cousins to share the residue equally

Procedural History

  • TC denied petition for distribution of a legacy under T’s will among her first cousins.
  • First cousins appealed

The Issue

Whether T’s intent to give the residue to her first cousins should be upheld when her will leaves it to her “heirs at law” of which the cousins are not

The Rule

  • A will duly executed and allowed by the court must be excepted as the final expression of the intent of the person executing it, regardless of the instructions given to the drafter.

The Holding/Disposition

  • No, affirmed

Court’s Reasoning

  • “Heirs at law” has a specific meaning
  • T had only one heir at law, the aunt

T’s cousins are excluded

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