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KAUFMANN ESTATE. (05/23/61)

May 23, 1961

KAUFMANN ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 30, March T., 1961, from decree of Orphans' Court of Allegheny County, No. 1808 of 1955, in re estate of Edgar J. Kaufmann, deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

David F. Maxwell and Samuel Kaufman, with them Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel, for appellant.

John C. Bane, Jr., with him Richard A. Gray, Jr., John H. Scott, Jr., Robert L. Kirkpatrick, John G. Frazer, Jr., and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, and Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson, for appellees. Ralph S. Snyder, Deputy Attorney General, with him Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 404 Pa. Page 133]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES.

The primary issue herein is the validity of an antenuptial agreement entered into by Edgar Kaufmann (decedent) and Grace S. Kaufmann on September 3, 1954, the day prior to their marriage.

Edgar Kaufmann, a Pittsburgh resident, died on April 15, 1955 - seven months subsequent to his marriage - survived by Grace Kaufmann, his wife, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., a son by a prior marriage. Decedent's estate approximated $10,500,000.*fn1

Eleven months subsequent to decedent's death, Mrs. Kaufmann elected to take against both decedent's will - executed the day of their marriage - and a charitable purpose life insurance trust - created one and three-quarter years prior to the marriage. Thereupon, decedent's executors and trustees petitioned the Orphans' Court of Allegheny County to annul Mrs. Kaufmann's election; the basis of their petition was that Mrs. Kaufmann, by reason of the antenuptial agreement of September 3, 1954, was barred from making any such election. By answer to this petition, Mrs. Kaufmann took the position that, although she did execute the antenuptial agreement, the agreement was invalid and not binding upon her for various reasons:*fn2 lack of mutuality,

[ 404 Pa. Page 134]

    that the agreement was executed by her without an understanding on her part of its meaning and purport and without having been adequately and properly advised by counsel of her own choice, that, when the agreement was made, she was not aware of decedent's actual financial status or of the existence of the charitable purpose life insurance trust, that she was without knowledge of the impact on decedent's estate of taxation and the tax saving device of marital deduction, that decedent, although his will was already prepared and ready for execution, failed to disclose to her the manner in which he proposed to dispose of his estate and, lastly, the agreement failed to make adequate and suitable proportionate provision for her maintenance and support. Although Mrs. Kaufmann's challenge to the agreement's validity appears to be in the nature of a shotgun attack, the real thrust of her challenge is two-fold: (1) that the decedent fraudulently and falsely concealed and failed to disclose to her the actual manner in which he intended to make a charitable disposition of his estate and (2) that the agreement failed to provide an income adequate and sufficient to maintain her in a manner consistent with that in which she had lived during coverture.

After taking testimony, the Orphans' Court of Allegheny County set aside Mrs. Kaufmann's election, ruling that her evidence was insufficient to warrant the court to invalidate the antenuptial agreement. The court en banc dismissed exceptions to that ...


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