THOMPSON et al.
BLACKWELL et al
Wills. Turner Superior Court. Before Judge Reinhardt.
Jacqueline J. Bragg, pro se.
Fayette Thompson, pro se.
Rosa Ann Myles, pro se.
Diane Thompson, pro se.
Stephen L. Ivie, for appellees.
MELTON, Justice. All the Justices concur.
This appeal involves the proper interpretation of a will executed by Hodge King (" Mr. King" ) that appeared to leave certain real property to his wife, Hattie King (" Mrs. King" ), in fee simple, but that also appeared to leave this same property to Mr. King's son and his son's children upon Mrs. King's death. After Mrs. King died, the executors of her estate became involved in a legal dispute with Mr. King's grandchildren regarding whether Mrs. King's estate owned the property in question in fee simple or whether Mr. King's grandchildren held any legal interest in the property. The trial court ruled in favor of Mrs. King's estate and assessed attorney fees against Mr. King's grandchildren, prompting this appeal. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.
During Mr. King's lifetime, he and Mrs. King jointly owned four tracts of real property as tenants in common in Turner County, Georgia. Mr. King died in 1999, purporting to leave Mrs. King all of his interest in this property in fee simple, according to Item II of his will:
I give, devise and bequeath to my wife, Hattie F. King, all my property, both real and personal, wherever located and [296 Ga. 444] whenever acquired, either before or after the making of this my Will, hers in Fee Simple.
However, in the very next Item of his will, Item III, Mr. King also stated that, upon his wife's death, all of his interest in the four tracts of property would be devised to his son, Theodore Roosevelt Thompson (" Thompson" ), and ...