Odom v. Coleman – What to Learn About Residuary Clauses?

This is the case initiated by a brother and a sister about the estate of their father. The son was hoping whether the court reforms their father’s estate according to the Texas Estates Code Section 255.451(a)(3).

The section basically lets the courts modify a bill to rectify the “scrivener’s error” in the clauses of the will. The modification is made as per the transparent and logical evidence.

The Will in Odom v. Coleman Case

The will had a residuary clause that told to pass on the “personal” property of the creator to the children: son and then the daughter. The interpretation of will suggested that the real property of the father would be passed through intestacy. The son deemed the word “personal” in the will to be inadequate since it was not included in the original handwritten will, stating it as a scrivener’s error.

The original handwritten will stated:

“I Howard E Coleman…leave all my worldly goods, land, property accounts all that I own to my son Howard W. Coleman on this day 6-15-2015. If anything happens to Howard W Coleman, it will go to my daughter Nadine Odom then to Thomas B Coleman.”

The daughter, however, maintained that the will was unambiguous and the residual clause applied to the personal property.

The Correction of Scrivener Errors and Modification of Wills

The Estates Code Section 255.451(a)(3) states that the will can be reformed to rectify the scrivener’s error even in the cases where the terms of the will are clear. Here, the court relies on extrinsic evidence to assess the terms according to the creator’s intent.

How the Case Ended?

The court ruled that the will would be reformed. To conclude, the court affirmed to exclude the word “personal” from the residuary clause, and thus the son, Howard W Coleman, was entitled to all of the property of the deceased, Howard E Coleman.

If you are interested to know more about the Odom v. Coleman case, residuary clauses, or going through a similar situation, contacting a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is always a good idea.

Contact Keystone Asset Protection and Estate Planning today to protect your assets, preserve your hard work and receive your due rights.