In the Matter of the Estate of Leatha Elizabeth Todd, Deceased.
Sheila Rose CLARK, Respondent. Sandra GARCIA and Debra Rhymes, Appellants,
and Submitted September 20, 2018.
Josephine County Circuit Court 17PB04071 Pat Wolke, Judge.
Brendan T. Davis argued the cause for appellants. Also on the
brief was Brendan Davis Attorney at Law LLC.
appearance for respondent Sheila Rose Clark.
Egan, Chief Judge, and Armstrong, Ortega, D eVo r e, Lagesen,
Tookey, DeHoog, Shorr, James, Aoyagi, Powers, and Mooney,
Judges, and Hadlock, Judge pro tempore.
Summary: The personal representative of testator's estate
petitioned the probate court for instructions on whether the
children entitled to inherit the testator's estate
included testator's stepchildren. The stepchildren argue
that the term "my children" in the will is
ambiguous because it is capable of more than one reasonable
construction. The probate court concluded that the will
unambiguously excluded the stepchildren from the definition
of "my children." Held: The probate court
did not err. Testator's will unambiguously excluded the
stepchildren, because the will identified testator's
children by name, referred to the stepchildren as
testator's husband's children from a previous
marriage, and stated that testator had no children from her
marriage to the stepchildren's father.
Or.App. 464] ARMSTRONG, J.
Todd died testate in April 2017, leaving her estate to her
children. The personal representative of her estate, Sheila
Clark, petitioned the probate court for instructions on
whether the children entitled to inherit the testator's
estate included the testator's stepchildren, Sandra
Garcia and Debra Rhymes. The probate court concluded that the
testator's will unambiguously provides that the
stepchildren are not included among the children who are
entitled to inherit the testator's estate, and it entered
a limited judgment to that effect. The stepchildren appeal
the judgment, arguing that the will is ambiguous about
whether they are included among the children entitled to
inherit under the will and, hence, that the probate court
erred in concluding otherwise. We disagree and affirm.
facts underlying this case are undisputed. Leatha Todd died
testate in April 2017. As relevant, her will provides:
"SECOND: I am married to KEITH S. TODD and all
references in this Will to 'my husband' are to him. I
have no children from this marriage.
"I was previously married and have three (3) children
now living, whose names and dates of birth are:
"ROCKY LARAY SCOTT, * * *
"SHEILAROSE CLARK, ***
"JAMES DARRELL MCGARRAH, ...