Wills, Trusts & Estates keyed to Dobris
Clark v. Greenhalge
Nesmith executed a will in 1977 that named Frederic T. Greenhalge as the executor. The will also made Greenhalge her principal beneficiary to all of their tangible personal property upon her death except the items that she “designated by a memorandum left by her and known to Greenhalge, as in accordance with her known wishes to be given to others at her death.” Nesmith kept a plastic covered notebook in her drawer and named it “List to be given Helen Nesmith 1979.” One of the entries among others read, “Ginny Clark farm picture hanging over fireplace.” Several times Nesmith told her home care nurses that the painting should go to Virginia Clark. Nesmith also told Clark that she wanted her to have the painting. Nesmith executed two codicils to her 1977 will, one on May 30, 1980 and one on October 23, 1980. The codicils amended certain bequests and deleted others while ratifying the will. Nesmith also created a document called “MEMORANDUM” with Greenhalge in 1972 and ide ntified it as a list of items of personal property prepared with Miss Helen Nesmith upon September 5,1972 for the guidance of myself in the distribution of personal tangible property. Greenhalge was the executor for Nesmith’s estate. As executor he distributed Nesmith’s property in accordance with the will as amended, the 1972 memorandum as amended in 1976, and certain provisions of the notebook. Greenhalge did not give the painting to Clark because he wanted to keep it. Greenhalge was aware of the notebook and its contents but made no attempt to determine the validity of the gift of her farm scene painting to Clark. Nesmith’s notebook was in existence at the time of the execution of the 1980 codicils. The probate judge ruled that the notebook was a part of the will and Greenhalge appealed.
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