reduction was a substantial diminution of the decedent-debtor's estate.
II. Right of plaintiff to seek relief after death of decedent.
Defendants contend that, since the owner of an estate for life cannot voluntarily improve the land in which he has only a limited interest and charge part of the expense against the future interest in land,
any right which decedent's creditors, including plaintiff, had in the improvements was completely extinguished by his death.
However, this legal principle is subject to the well-recognized right of creditors to reach any interest conveyed by a decedent for his own benefit,
particularly at the time he was insolvent, if the exercise of such right does not interfere with the existing rights of others, such as the defendant remainderman, in the property. See Mackason's Appeal, 1862, 42 Pa. 330; In re Mogridge's Estate, 1941, 342 Pa. 308, 311-312, 20 A.2d 307; In re Bowers' Trust Estate, 1943, 346 Pa. 85, 89, 29 A.2d 519.
Also, the fact that a debtor has died has never been held to prevent his creditors from reaching the interest which the debtor had in property which has been fraudulently conveyed the moment before his death in a variety of similar situations. See Mackason's Appeal, supra; United States v. Bess, 3 Cir., 243 F.2d 675, and cases there cited.
III. Measure of relief to which plaintiff may be entitled.
In similar, but not identical, situations the creditors of a debtor placing improvements on the land of another have been permitted to reach the value of such improvements. See Curtis & Co. v. Olds, 1915, 250 Pa. 320, 324-325, 95 A. 526;
People's Nat. Bank of Pittsburg v. Loeffert, 1898, 184 Pa. 164, 38 A. 996.
Although the extent of the recovery, if any, to which plaintiff is entitled cannot be determined until the evidence has been produced in support of the complaint, it would seem most probable that the plaintiff will not be able to recover any more than the lesser of the following amounts: (1) the amount spent by the decedent for improvements (as opposed to items of ordinary maintenance and repair); (2) the amount of the excess, if any, of the value of the land with all improvements at the time of decedent's death over the value it would have had at that time without the improvement made by the decedent.
It is clear, in any event, that any invasion of the remainder interest of the incompetent defendant in the land without the alleged improvements would be a violation of established property rights. See In re Crawford's Estate, 1949, 362 Pa. 458, 67 A.2d 124; In re Warden's Trust, 1955, 382 Pa. 311, 115 A.2d 159; cf. Datesman's Appeal, 1889, 127 Pa. 348, 17 A. 1086, 1100. A construction of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act and of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939 invading such rights would raise grave doubts as to their constitutionality and, hence, should be avoided. Richmond Screw Anchor Co. v. United States, 1928, 275 U.S. 331, 346, 48 S. Ct. 194, 72 L. Ed. 303; Jay v. Boyd, 1956, 351 U.S. 345, 357, 76 S. Ct. 919, 100 L. Ed. 1242 (footnote 21).
IV. Indefinite allegations as to improvements.
Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the motion for summary judgment complain of the inadequate description in the complaint of the alleged improvements. These paragraphs will be treated as a motion for more definite statement under F.R.Civ.P. 12(e) and plaintiff will be given ninety days within which to amend its complaint accordingly.
V. Decedent's Estate's motion to dismiss.
Decedent's personal representative contends that this action should be dismissed as to him since the complaint fails to seek any remedy or relief as to him. The complaint asserts a 'right to relief' arising out of the alleged series of transactions,
even though no judgment for this relief may be entered in this proceeding. In view of (a) the consistent holdings of the earlier federal cases, that the personal representative of a deceased debtor is a proper party defendant in a suit alleging a fraudulent conveyance, where the alleged fraudulent conduct to be investigated is on the part of that deceased debtor,
and (b) the fact that the defendant remainderman has challenged the allegation of the decedent's insolvency,
this motion to dismiss will be denied, without prejudice to the right of the personal representative to renew it at the trial or at any time that more facts are placed on the record by discovery proceedings, stipulations, or otherwise.
And Now, June 21, 1957, It Is Ordered (a) that the Motion to Dismiss is Denied, without prejudice; (b) that paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Motion for Summary Judgment are Granted as a Motion For More Definite Statement under F.R.Civ.P. 12(e) and that plaintiff is granted ninety (90) days to comply with such Motion; and (c) that in all other respects the Motion for Summary Judgment is Denied.