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COULTER ESTATE. (03/13/62)

March 13, 1962

COULTER ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 48, Jan. T., 1962, from decree of Orphans' Court of Montgomery County, No. 61,687, in re estate of Robert J. Coulter. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Garry G. Greenstein, with him Marlyn F. Smith, for appellant.

Frederick C. N. Littleton, with him M. Paul Smith, and Grubb, Guest and Litteton, and Smith, Cahall and Aker, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 406 Pa. Page 404]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

Under attack on this appeal is the validity of a decree of the Orphans' Court of Montgomery County which found that Robert J. Coulter (Coulter) was an incompetent within the provisions of the Incompetents' Estates Act of 1955*fn1 and appointed a guardian of his estate.

Coulter, 78 years of age, resided on Bryn Mawr Avenue, Penn Valley, Montgomery County, in a home jointly owned by himself and his wife*fn2 until on or about May 22, 1955 when he entered a nursing home located in Villanova, Delaware County, Pa. About October 2, 1955 a Mrs. Rose Wood, a nurse at the Villanova nursing home, arranged for Coulter to move to a rest home which she operated in Chester Plaza, Chester, Pa. In August 1960, Mrs. Wood moved her guests, including Coulter, to a new rest home in Claymount, Delaware, approximately one mile from the Pennsylvania border.*fn3

On April 17, 1945, Coulter had made a will wherein he named Real Estate Trust Company, now Liberty Real Estate Bank and Trust Company (Bank), and Attorney Grubb, a member of the Philadelphia bar, as executors. On March 14, 1955, Coulter executed a general power of attorney in favor of Attorney Grubb

[ 406 Pa. Page 405]

    and from that item Attorney Grubb paid all Coulter's bills and managed his investments. On April 29, 1956, Coulter executed an agency agreement under which the Bank "was named as agent to manage his securities and investments"; in actuality the Bank functioned more as a custodian rather than as an agent. From March 14, 1955 until March 30, 1961 - approximately eight weeks after Mrs. Coulter's death - Attorney Grubb handled all Coulter's affairs. On the latter date Attorney Grubb received a letter from Attorney Greenstein, a member of the bar of Wilmington, Delaware, which enclosed a paper signed by Coulter canceling Attorney Grubb's power of attorney.

On or about April 6, 1961, Ella J. Gray, Coulter's sister and closest relative, together with Helen Weller, one of five first cousins of Coulter, petitioned the Orphans' Court of Montgomery County for the appointment of a guardian for Coulter under the Incompetents' Estates Act, supra.*fn4 Coulter was personally served with a notice of the filing of the petition and the date of hearing but he did not personally appear at the hearing although he was thereat represented by counsel. After hearing, the Orphans' Court of Montgomery County found that ...


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