Are Stocks Bonds and Cash Considered ''Personal Property'' of a Decedent ?

In Estate of McKenna, 340 Pa. Super. 105, 489 A.2d 862, 865 (Pa. Super. 1985), the decedent granted "all of my personal property of whatever kind and wherever located" to a grandnephew. McKenna, 489 A.2d at 864. A second clause directed that his residuary estate was to be divided between two charities. Id. Aside from specific bequests not relevant here, the decedent's estate consisted of a 1977 Plymouth Volare and over $ 150,000 in stocks, bonds, and cash. Id. The grandnephew argued that he was entitled to the stocks, bonds, and cash because they represented "personal property" of the decedent. Id. The Court disagreed, holding that the phrase "personal property" was ambiguous when the will was read as a whole. Id. at 866. Specifically, we noted that while "personal property" ordinarily includes stocks, bonds, and cash, "it is not always so." Id. Moreover, we noted that the grandnephew's interpretation would render the residuary clause a nullity and conflicted with other clauses in the will where the decedent bequeathed personal property to others. Id. In light of this ambiguity, the Court affirmed the Orphans' Court's decision to allow parol evidence of the decedent's intent. Id. at 867. The scrivener of the decedent's will testified that the decedent intended to give the stocks, bonds, and cash to the charities, and that the grandnephew was entitled to the automobile. Id.