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LIFTER ESTATE (03/24/54)

March 24, 1954

LIFTER ESTATE


Appeals, Nos. 314 and 316, Jan. T., 1953, from decree of Orphans' Court of Philadelphia County, 1948, No. 2153, in Estate of Morris Lifter, deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Sigmund H. Steinberg, with him Blanc, Steinberg & Balder, for appellant.

Walter B. Gibbons, guardian ad litem and trustee ad litem, appellant, in propria persona.

Israel Packel, for appellee.

Before Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Bell

[ 377 Pa. Page 228]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

The Federation of Jewish Charities presented to the Orphans' Court a petition for a declaratory judgment. All of the persons having any possible interest, present or remote, vested or contingent, were joined in the petition.

In Eureka Casualty Co. v. Henderson, 371 Pa. 587, 92 A.2d 551, Mr. Chief Justice STERN said (pages 591, 592): "... whether or not a court will take jurisdiction of a petition for a declaratory judgment or decree is purely a matter of judicial discretion.... It was said in Capital Bank and Trust Company's Petition, 336 Pa. 108, 111, 6 A.2d 790, 792; '... the

[ 377 Pa. Page 229]

    vital factor in the assumption of jurisdiction is the presence of antagonistic claims indicating imminent and inevitable litigation, coupled with a clear manifestation that the declaration sought will be a practical help in ending the controversy: ...'"

The facts in the instant case bring it within the aforesaid requirements; the problems involved are so unusual and difficult, litigation was so imminent and inevitable, and the peril to the Federation was so great and immediate that we consider this to be an appropriate matter for a declaratory judgment.

Morris Lifter died August 16, 1948, leaving a wife, but no issue. His will dated January 24, 1947, was long and very involved -- it covered 19 printed pages. Testator, after the usual provisions with respect to his debts and funeral expenses, made certain pecuniary gifts. In the 7th paragraph of his will he created a trust to pay $60 a month to his sister, who has since died, and gave all the rest of the net income to his wife for ...


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