Nor does the fact that the beneficiaries managed to live within their small means and save some money each year indicate necessarily that their scale of living was entirely a matter of choice. For two of them at least, saving against the time when they could no longer work was almost as much of a necessity as meeting current expenses.
The cost of living has materially increased (perhaps by 50 per cent) since the testator's death and further inflation of prices is a serious threat.
Another consideration is that 'comfort and support' was Edward Martin's expression and, while, of course, he meant the comfort and support of the beneficiaries, nevertheless his own situation may well have had something to do with what he considered comfortable support for others. Steele's Appeal, supra. We have no information as to the scale upon which he was accustomed to live but it does appear that he left a gross estate of something over $ 320,000.
The whole sum of the plaintiff's case upon the affidavits really comes down to this: That the testator, by ordinary standards a man of wealth, knew that his beneficiaries were middle aged people of good education and refinement, living very modestly under rather straitened circumstances, able to make ends meet, but only by working for a living (considering Mr. Dennisson and his wife as one) or through assistance from him and that, with these facts before him, he drew a will in which he insured the comfort and support of the beneficiaries at the possible expense of the charitable remainders by permitting invasion of the corpus for their benefit.
The income from the trust would have given two of the beneficiaries about $ 3,000 a year each, and the other $ 1,500. Without it, had they either voluntarily or from necessity ceased to work, none of them would have had enough income to live on. While it may be assumed that the testator did not expect them suddenly to acquire luxurious habits and live extravagantly, the plaintiffs have wholly failed to meet their burden of showing that he intended to hold them down to a style of living limited strictly by their manner of life in the past or to deny them some comforts in the way of recreation and improved living conditions which they had not previously been able to afford. What may be the reasonable and proper desires of the beneficiaries and what they may be entitled to can not now be predicted with the accuracy which the law requires.
The conclusions are:
(1) That the plaintiffs have not established that it was the intention of the testator, Edward Martin, to limit the discretion given to his trustees to invade principal only to amounts necessary to allow the beneficiaries to maintain their way of life as it was prior to his death.
(2) That the extent of permissible invasion of the corpus of the trust can not be reliably predicted and no 'highly reliable' appraisal of the amount the charities will receive, is available.
Both sides have moved for summary judgment and so are in agreement that the pleadings and the evidence before the Court present no genuine issue as to any material fact. For the purposes of the motions, I have accepted as verity the statements contained in the affidavits filed by the plaintiffs, to the extent that they constitute admissible and competent evidence bearing upon the intention of the testator.
The defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted. The plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is denied.
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