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FIDELITY-PHILADELPHIA TRUST COMPANY v. BANKERS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY NEBRASKA (05/26/52)

May 26, 1952

FIDELITY-PHILADELPHIA TRUST COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
BANKERS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NEBRASKA



Appeal, No. 137, Jan. T., 1952, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 1 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1950, No. 1491, in case of Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, Exr., Estate of Thomas McKean, deceased v. Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska, Radford McKean, Girard Trust Company of Philadelphia, Guardian of Estate of Radford McKean and Catherine R. McKean. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Daniel Mungall, Jr., with him Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, for appellant.

James J. O'Brien, with him Hubert P. Earle, and Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, for appellees.

Before Drew, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 370 Pa. Page 515]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On April 30, 1948, Thomas McKean, aged 39, purchased for his son Radford McKean, aged 4, an "automatic estate builder" insurance policy providing for the payment of $20,000 to the named beneficiary if the insured (the son) died before reaching the age of 21. All rights in the policy vested in the insured when he reached the age of 21, at which time the ultimate face value of the policy upon payment of the same premiums as theretofore became $100,000.

To guarantee futurity of the policy, Thomas McKean, under a Prepaid Premium Agreement with the insurance company, deposited, on July 21, 1948, with the insurance company the sum of $16,315.67 to pay the remaining 19 annual premiums.

On July 30, 1949, Thomas McKean died as the result of an accident. The executor of his estate, the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, at once demanded that the insurance company pay over to the estate the unused portions of the premiums on the paid-up policy belonging to Radford McKean. This the insurance company refused to do. The executor then brought suit in assumpsit against the insurance company, the Girard Trust Company of Philadelphia as guardian of Radford McKean, and Catherine R. McKean, mother of Radford, named the contingent beneficiary in the policy.

[ 370 Pa. Page 516]

The lower court rendered judgment for the defendants and the plaintiff has appealed to this Court.

Stated quite objectively, the question posed by the opposing parties is: Shall the $14,756.63 remaining as unpaid premiums be paid over to the estate or shall it be used to pay premiums on the policy taken out by the father for his son?

In answering this question we seek only one polestar and that is the intent of the donor, Thomas McKean. That intent is to be derived from two documents, the insurance policy and the Premium Prepaid Agreement. In Landreth v. First Natl. Bank of Phila., 346 Pa. 551, 31 A.2d 161, this Court said: "'A writing is interpreted as a whole and all writings forming ...


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