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HOFFMANN ESTATE. (04/18/60)

April 18, 1960

HOFFMANN ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 39, March T., 1960, from decree of Orphans' Court of Allegheny County, No. 2159 of 1956, in re estate of Antonia Hoffmann, deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Valera Grapp, with her Max V. Schoonmaker, for appellant.

William McC. Houston, with him Houston & Houston, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 399 Pa. Page 97]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES.

Antonia Hoffmann, a resident of Allegheny County, died April 29, 1956. Her will - dated December 19, 1955 - was the subject of a contest finally determined by this Court. (Hoffmann Will, 394 Pa. 391, 147 A.2d 633).

Under this will - a lawyer-prepared instrument - Mrs. Edward H. Grapp*fn1 was specifically bequeathed the stock*fn2 which testatrix owned in the J. M. Hoffmann Company, a closely held family corporation. Testatrix divided her residuary estate*fn3 in the following manner: one-quarter, respectively, to each of two nieces and a nephew, one-eighth to a grandniece (Mrs. Grapp's daughter) and one-sixteenth, respectively, to each of two great grandnieces (Mrs. Grapp's grandchildren). Mrs. Grapp was named executrix in this will.

[ 399 Pa. Page 98]

A federal estate tax in the amount of $115,878.59 was paid out of the residuary estate and so reflected in the first and final account filed in the Orphans' Court of Allegheny County. Certain residuary legatees filed exceptions to this account objecting to the delivery by Mrs. Grapp, as executrix, to herself, as legatee, of the shares of the Hoffmann Company stock without payment of her prorata share [$60,179.69] of the federal estate tax allegedly imposed upon her by the provisions of the Pennsylvania "Estate Tax Apportionment Act of 1951".*fn4 The court below sustained these exceptions and decreed that delivery of the shares of the Hoffmann Company stock to Mrs. Grapp was "subject to payment to the Accountant of amount of Federal Estate Tax and Interest due on legacy" [$60,179.69] and "also subject to payment to Accountant of amount necessary for any Federal Estate tax deficiency...." From that portion of the decree Mrs. Grapp has taken this appeal.

Both the Estate Tax Apportionment Act of 1951, supra, and the Estate Tax Apportionment Act of 1937*fn5 created a presumption that proration of estate taxes is to be made in accordance with the statutory provisions unless the testator in his will has clearly indicated an intent inconsistent with such presumption. In Stadtfeld Estate, 359 Pa. 147, 152, 58 A.2d 478, Mr. Justice (later Chief Justice) STERN stated: "The Act creates a presumption that a testator intends that proration should be made in accordance with its [the Act's] terms unless his will contains a specific provision, clearly expressed, inconsistent with such presumption,

[ 399 Pa. Page 99]

    and, to accomplish that result, his language must not be of doubtful import...". To the same effect, see: Harvey Estate, 350 Pa. 53, 56, 57, 38 A.2d 262; Wahr Estate, 370 Pa. 382, 88 A.2d 417; Edwards Estate, 377 Pa. 606, ...


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