Wilkins v. Allen - 59 U.S. 385 (1855)
U.S. Supreme Court
Wilkins v. Allen, 59 U.S. 18 How. 385 385 (1855)
Wilkins v. Allen
59 U.S. (18 How.) 385
Where a testator in Pennsylvania gave to his wife a life estate in the homestead and two lots, and charged upon his goods and lands an annuity to her, but did not mention his lands in any other part of the will, and then, after sundry legacies, bequeathed the surplus to be applied to the purposes of the Presbyterian church, this surplus does not relate to his lands, which his heirs will take.
By the law of Pennsylvania, heirs must take, unless they are disinherited by express words or necessary implication.
Evidence of extrinsic circumstances, such as the amount and condition of the estate &c., cannot be received to control the interpretation of the will; it is only admissible to explain ambiguities arising out of extrinsic circumstances.
This was an ejectment brought by the Allens, who were aliens and subjects of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, to recover four undivided fifth parts of one undivided half of a lot in Pittsburg. They were heirs of Michael Allen and the question was whether Allen the testator, had devised the property in question by his will.
The substance of the will is given in the opinion of the Court, as are also the rulings of the circuit court.