Usry v. Farr
553 S.E.2d 789 (2001)

  • Usry died. His will provided successive life estates to his will Lucille and then their children. The remainder was to be distributed to his grandchildren.
    • Usry had three children, who produced a total of four grandchildren.
      • Usry’s son Jack died leaving three kids and a wife.
      • Usry’s fourth grandson, Hoyt, had three children of his own prior to Usry’s death, but died before Jack.
      • Usry’s son Ned had no children and was the last to die.
    • Therefore, at the time of Usry’s death, there were four living grandkids and three great-grandkids. At the time of Usry’s last living child’s death (Ned), there were three living grandkids and three living great-grandkids.
  • Jack’s children argued that the distribution should occur based on who was alive when Ned died, and since Hoyt was already dead, his heirs shouldn’t get a share.
    • In other words, Hoyt’s gift had not vested.
  • Hoyt’s kids argued that the distribution should occur based on who was alive when Usry died, which meant that Hoyt got a share (which goes to them.)
    • In other words, vesting should apply.
  • The Trial Court found for Hoyt’s kids. Jack’s kids appealed.
  • The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.
    • The Georgia Supreme Court looked to Usry’s intent. They found that he stated an intention to provide for those “who survive me.” Therefore, since Hoyt survived Usry, he (or his estate) is entitled to a share.
    • Also, Georgia State law favors the vesting of title at the time of the testator’s death, unless there is manifest intention to the contrary.
  • In a dissent, it was argued the will had a clause saying, “upon the death of my last surviving child title in fee simple to said lands will vest in my grandchildren.” Therefore, there was manifest intent for the vesting of title to occur at the death of the last surviving child.
    • That’s a condition of survivorship. If there is a condition of survivorship then the gift doesn’t vest until the condition is met.