Therefore, when a will is unambiguous, the only source of ascertaining a testator's intent
is the language of the will.
B was a relatively minor beneficiary to begin with, and to augment B's share so substantially as a result of A's death distorts the estate plan and thereby could easily do violence to the testator's intent. (245)
In the absence of an effective residuary clause, courts could exercise authority either to find a partial intestacy or to extrapolate from the fragmentary estate plan, assigning portions to beneficiaries proportional to their shares under the will on the basis of intrinsic and extrinsic evidence of the testator's intent. For example, if partial intestacy would result in an escheat, a court could readily infer a preference for extrapolation.
In re Walter, 97 P.3d at 192 (failing to explore the facts that prompted the testator to include the global negative will, and conceding that the testator "may not have intended that his estate would escheat," but insisting that the court was "limited by the clear and plain meaning of his words"); In re Melton, 272 R3d at 677 (failing to explore the facts and rejecting the suggestion that the prior death of the intended beneficiary would have changed the testator's intent to disinherit his relatives as "speculat[ion]").
Doing so might or might not correspond with the typical testator's intent. Lawmakers inclined to explore the question could study the empirical significance of any number of variables: the kind of property involved, (93) its relative value, the relationship between the testator and the beneficiary, (94) the circumstances that caused the property to disappear, (95) or what followed.
The alternative antiformalistic move would allow courts to weigh the effects that changed circumstances have on a testator's intent and to implement that reading even in want of a codicil.
(76) This rule requires a court to enforce a will when the testator's intent is clearly expressed from the language used.
(133) By contrast, construction occurs only after interpretation has failed to reveal the testator's intent and involves the utilization of established presumptions and canons to assign meaning.
Interplay of Testator's Intent and Revocation Statutes
In conjunction with the testator's compliance with statutory formalities, the testator's intent plays a vital role in the court's interpretation.