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STOKES ESTATE. APPEAL STOKES. (STOKES ESTATE.) (07/20/50)

July 20, 1950

IN RE STOKES ESTATE. APPEAL OF STOKES. (STOKES ESTATE.)


COUNSEL

Hackett Mullen, Latrobe, for appellant.

John S. Lightcap, Jr., Latrobe, for appellee.

Before Rhodes. P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Reno

[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 129]

RENO, Judge.

The widow of John E. Stokes appealed from the decree of the court below ordering a reappraisement of property selected by her under the widow's exemption provisions of the Fiduciaries Act of June 7, 1917, P.L. 447, § 12[a], 20 P.S. § 471.

The decedent died on September 29, 1942, and by his will directed conversion of his real estate and distribution of the proceeds among his wife and his two sons by a former marriage. The widow was appointed executrix. On July 22, 1943, she filed a verified list of debts

[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 130]

    for inheritance tax purposes which included the item: 'Mrs. Emma M. Stokes, widow, Widow's Exemption, $500.00'*fn1 She took no further steps until March 1, 1946, three years and five months after the death, when she selected a house and lot in the Borough of Latrobe, and petitioned the court to appoint appraisers. They were appointed on that day, and valued the property, as of the date of the decedent's death, at $3350, subject to a mortgage lien of $2839.52, leaving a net value of $510.48. The appraisement was confirmed nisi on March 19, 1946.

The sons filed exceptions alleging, first, that the widow had forfeited her rights by laches; and, second, that the valuation was 'ridiculously low', asserting that at the decedent's death its market value was $6500 and presently was worth $8500.

The learned court below rejected the first exception and held that in the circumstances the widow had not unreasonably delayed her claim for the exemption. See In re Davies' Estate, 146 Pa. Super. 7, 21 A.2d 517. This phase of the case is not before us.

It sustained the second exception, stating: 'However, the same concept of equity which excuses the delay of three years and five months from the date of her husband's death, will not allow the widow to take advantage of that delay for her own enrichment.' It held that an appraisement should be made 'as of March 1, 1946, the date on which the widow first claimed her exemption * * *.' Accordingly, the matter was 'referred back to the appraisers to appraise the ...


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