Estate of Kehler
488 Pa. 165, 411 A.2d 748 (1980)

  • Kehler died. His will left the remainder of his estate to his brother Ralph, his sisters Viola, Ada, and Gertrude, “and to the survivor or survivors of them.”
    • Ralph died before Kehler did.
  • Ralph’s daughter Ethel came forward and claimed the share of Kehler’s estate that was to go to Ralph.
  • The Probate Court denied Ethel a share. Ethel appealed.
    • Ethel argued that she should take a share under the Pennsylvania State anti-lapse Statute.
      • The anti-lapse Statute says that if a sibling, child, or nephew/niece mentioned in a will predeceases the testator, then their share goes to their children, unless the testator “explicitly manifests contrary intent.”
    • The Probate Court found that the language of the will was quite clear, and that it explicitly limited takers to living siblings mentioned in the will.
    • Under the common law doctrine of lapse, if a person predeceases the testator, they receive no share of the estate.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed and awarded a share to Ethel.
    • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court looked to other sections of Kehler’s will and noticed that they explicitly included lapse provisions.
    • Because the share concerning the bequest to Ralph did not explicitly have such a provision, it must be presumed that Kehler did not have such an intent.
  • Basically, anti-lapse will apply unless the testator explicitly states that they want the bequest to lapse.