Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quod voluit non dixit

"The Court may conjecture that a fee [as opposed to a life estate and remainder] was intended by the testator, but quod voluit non dixit; and they are bound to consider the series of authorities which reject these private conjectures, and set up permanent rules of construction in their place, as the law of the land." French v. M'Ilhenny, 2 Binn. 13 (S. Ct. Penn. 1809).

The maxim, of course, means "that he did not say [in the instrument] what he intended." The Court rightly observes the argument's invalidity vis a vis a testamentary instrument, but the fact that it has a latin maxim associated with it reflects its persistence. If modern casebooks are to be believed, this is, in fact, the dominant form of probate argument today. What a deplorable state of affairs we have.

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