Session: June 20, 2017.
from the Probate Court for Loudon County No. 4455 Rex Alan
appeal involves the interpretation and enforcement of a will
executed by Wanda Joyce Watkins ("the
Decedent"). Specifically at issue is a provision
bequeathing the residue and remainder of the Decedent's
estate to her prior husband, Mr. John Vance ("Mr.
Vance"). Although Mr. Vance's children ("the
Vance children") claimed entitlement to the residuary
estate by virtue of the anti-lapse statute codified at
Tennessee Code Annotated section 32-3-105, the executrix of
the estate contended that such a disposition was inconsistent
with the Decedent's intent. The trial court agreed with
the position of the executrix and rejected the Vance
children's claim to receive under the will. The trial
court also held that portions of the respective parties'
attorney's fees should be paid by the estate. Although we
reverse the trial court's decision regarding the
application of the anti-lapse statute, we affirm its order as
it pertains to the assessment of attorney's fees.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Probate
Court Reversed in Part, Affirmed in Part and Remanded
Wilson Buchanan, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellants,
John Darrell Vance, Nancy Ann Ferrara, Wendy Michelle Vance
Knott, and William Landon Vance.
Schow, IV and Robert L. Vance, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the
appellee, Kimberly B. Jenkins.
Bingham and Barry N. Blanton, Appellees. 
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Charles D. Susano, Jr. and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ.,
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE.
and Procedural History
Vance children, who are the Appellants in this matter, are
the former stepchildren of the Decedent. Their father, Mr.
Vance, was the Decedent's second husband. In April 1991,
the Decedent executed a will that provided for the
disposition of her estate. The will, which was prepared by
counsel, contained the following residuary provision which
forms the basis of this dispute:
FIFIH: All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, I
give, devise and bequeath to my husband, JOHN M. VANCE.
Vance died on July 14, 1996, predeceasing the Decedent.
Notably, the Decedent never revoked her 1991 will. She passed
away after a bout with cancer on May 28, 2012. Following her
death, her will was admitted to probate in the Probate Court
for Loudon County.
present controversy ensued when the Decedent's daughter
and executrix of the estate, Kimberly B. Jenkins ("Ms.
Jenkins"), filed a "Petition to Construe Will"
on November 12, 2013. On the same date, the Vance children
filed a motion to intervene. Specifically at issue in these
filings was the disposition of the residuary estate, which
the will bequeathed to Mr. Vance. Of particular concern to
Ms. Jenkins was the disposition of a farm that the Decedent
had inherited from her family. Ms. Jenkins maintained that,
although the anti-lapse statute codified at Tennessee Code
Annotated section 32-3-105 might be construed to hold that
the interest of Mr. Vance should pass to his issue, the court
should construe the will in favor of a finding that the
Decedent intended all of her real property to pass to her
lineal descendants and not the lineal descendants of Mr.
Vance. In their motion to intervene, the Vance children
asserted that the anti-lapse statute governed the case and
that they were "rightfully entitled to the assets
directed to pass to John M. Vance."
hearing on the matter was held in May 2014. During the
hearing, Ms. Jenkins testified-over the objection of the
Vance children's counsel-to the relationship that had
existed between the Decedent and the Vance children. Ms.
Jenkins stated that their relationship had been a "very
tense" one, and she testified that the Decedent had
never said anything when she executed her will to indicate
that she wanted the Vance ...