A rule of construction not depending on the statute may sometimes give a life estate to a person to whom nothing is expressly given by the will.

This construction is only adopted where no other construction is possible.

Thus. If T gives land by will "to John after the death of my wife" There is no gift of the land during the life of the wife. The land is therefore indisposed of and goes to T's heir, for although one might think that the testator meant his wife to have it, the rule is that the heir cannot be displaced except by express words or necessary implication. But, if John is the testator's heir, it was clearly intended that John (the heir) was not to take until after the death of the wife, and if the heir is not to take it, it must be intended that the wife is to have it for life. Hence the wife takes a life estate by implication. The rule, therefore, is -

If a testator gives laud to his heir, after the death of a named person, that person takes a life estate by implication.

The rule does not apply where the land is given to one of several co-heiresses after the death of a certain person.

Re Willatts, [1905] 1 Ch. 378.

A testator gave his residue after the death of his wife to his two daughters Eliza and Emma. The testator had three other daughters; so that the five daughters were co-heiresses.

Held, the wife did not take a life interest in the residue (/).

(t) This case was overruled (S.C. [1905] 2 Ch. 135), but on other grounds.