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HOLLENBAUGH ESTATE. (01/16/61)

January 16, 1961

HOLLENBAUGH ESTATE.


Appeals, Nos. 357 and 358, Jan. T., 1960, from decree of Orphans' Court of Lancaster County, No. 163 of 1959, in re estate of Isaac M. Hollenbaugh, deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

William R. Howard, for appellants.

Henry F. Gingrich, for appellee.

Before Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 402 Pa. Page 257]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.

Isaac M. Hollenbaugh, 85 years of age and ill in bed, decided to make a disposition of his property in anticipation of the day no one escapes. A friend, James E. Hockenberry, came to see him with a printed WILL AND TESTAMENT form and the both of them proceeded to fill in the blank spaces in order to give expression to Hollenbaugh's intentions. The final product was hardly a work of literary perfection. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax were as

[ 402 Pa. Page 258]

    apparently in as sick a state as the testator and, as a consequence, a controversy has arisen as to just what the decedent had in mind in disposing of his estate.

The first dispositive paragraph of the will which, incidentally, is the one most directly involved in this appeal, reads: "1. Mrs. Mae E. Keck will receive over and above her equal share of the Estate of Mr. Isaac M. Hollebaugh/. Seven Thousand and Five Hundred Dollars. That of which is made out in a Bond. To her as Benificary for my care and keeping as long as i live."

If one had to draw a precise meaning from this paragraph standing alone, he might give up in despair. However, through the wisdom of the centuries the courts have developed certain rules of construction and convenience which allow judges to distil meaning from jargon, comprehension from incomprehensibility and purpose from unintelligibility.

The second paragraph of the Hollenbaugh will reads: 2. "All other Bonds will be divided equally among the remaining Heirs."

When Hollenbaugh's will was fashioned by himself and his equally legally uneducated collaborator, there were in existence the following bonds: (1) 11 U.S. Savings Bonds in his name and that of his wife, who had died in 1950, having a face value of $6,400. (2) 4 U.S. Savings Bonds standing in his name and that of his son Ross, having a face value of $7,500. (3) 5 U.S. ...


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