The Secret Life of Testamentary Schemes

38 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2020

See all articles by Richard F. Storrow

Richard F. Storrow

City University of New York School of Law

Date Written: March 17, 2020


The testamentary scheme, a poorly understood interpretative tool used by courts to determine the meaning of a will’s dispositive provisions, is insufficiently theorized in both case law and scholarly commentary. Based on a painstaking study of testamentary schemes in context, in this article I raise and defend three propositions: (1) a testamentary scheme is a dominant purpose that is intrinsic to the will; (2) a testamentary scheme is most appropriately used (a) to bring plain language into sharper focus or (b) to fill omissions in dispositive provisions; and (3) if a testamentary scheme can do either (2)(a) or (2)(b), there is no need to resort to evidentiary presumptions.

Keywords: wills, testamentary intent, testamentary scheme, testamentary plan, testamentary purpose, will interpretation, plain meaning, ambiguity, extrinsic evidence, will construction, gifts by implication, omissions, invalid provisions

Suggested Citation

Storrow, Richard F., The Secret Life of Testamentary Schemes (March 17, 2020). Drake Law Review, Vol. 68, No. 1, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Richard F. Storrow (Contact Author)

City University of New York School of Law ( email )

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