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In Re Estate of Reinhard

OPINION FILED AUGUST 11, 1976.

IN RE ESTATE OF FRED REINHARD, DECEASED. — (KATHERINE MURPHY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,

v.

NORTHWEST NATIONAL BANK, EX'R, ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LOUIS J. HYDE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DIERINGER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from a ruling of the circuit court in construing a will. The court below found ambiguity in the will, wherein the residuary clause of the will provides for equal distribution among six persons named in article 4.02, but article 4.02 of the will and codicil names 12 persons. The appellant did request of the circuit court, and does now seek, intestate distribution. The court below decreed the entire estate pass by the terms of the testator's will and codicil, and distribution of the estate be made to the 12 legatees, in shares ranging from one sixth to one fortyeighth share per legatee. The decree is the subject matter of the instant appeal.

The issue presented is whether the court erred in ordering testamentary distribution of the residue of the estate under a patently ambiguous article, even though the testator's intent could be reasonably determined.

Fred Reinhard, the testator, died leaving an estate of approximately $95,000, of which approximately $70,000 was in the personal estate. The real estate was devised by specific bequest and is not part of this suit. When the specific legacies of $16,850 and the approximate cost of administration are subtracted from the $70,000 personal estate, the remainder, or amount involved in this appeal, is $45,000.

On January 11, 1973, Fred Reinhard executed a will. Article IV, paragraph 4.02, of this will, which was admitted to probate, bequeaths all the residue of the deceased's estate to:

a. Katherine Murphy ($300)

b. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Long ($5,000)

c. Frank Higgins ($2,000)

d. Mr. and Mrs. L. Manke ($250)

e. Mrs. Milda Hammers ($300)

f. Lucille Gibbs ($7,000)

Article IV further provides that any residue remaining after the above distribution "shall be divided equally among the foregoing six persons."

Article IV, paragraph 4.02 of the codicil dated May 14, 1973, and admitted to probate, cancelled the bequest of $7,000 to Lucille Gibbs ...


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