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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jun 19, 2012

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Donald Capparella and Candi Henry, Nashville, Tennessee, and Kimberlee Waterhouse, Lenoir City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeff W. Powell.

Attorneys 2:

Terry G. Vann, Lenoir City, Tennessee, for the appellee, Hill Estate.

Judge(s): FRANKS

This appeal involves a dispute over the decedent's Codicil to his Will. The Codicil divided decedent's real property between decedent's daughter and Jeff W. Powell. When decedent was on his death bed he asked a lawyer to prepare the Codicil, which described where certain property lines between the parties would be drawn, and the Codicil essentially gave 45 acres to decedent's daughter and 55 acres to Powell. During the administration of the Estate, the parties employed a surveyor to survey the property lines for the purpose of preparing the respective deeds. The surveyor determined that the description of the boundaries in the Codicil gave Powell 80 plus acres and the decedent's daughter 19 plus acres. Essentially, the Trial Court held that the descriptions created patent ambiguities, but he also concluded that even if the ambiguities were latent, extensive governance would be required to validate the Codicil, which is not appropriate. Accordingly, he voided the Codicil altogether. Powell has appealed. We reverse the Trial Court and hold that the decedent's intent was to give his daughter 45 acres and Powell 55 acres, and we reinstate the Codicil with directions to the Trial Court to direct the surveyor to reconfigure the boundaries to carry out the intent of the testator.