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LEWIS ESTATE. (05/21/62)

THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


May 21, 1962

IN RE LEWIS ESTATE.

Appeal, No. 102, Jan. T., 1962, from decree of Orphans' Court of Bradford County, May T., 1955, No. 9, in re estate of Edith A. Lewis, deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

J. Roy Lilley, for appellant.

J. Boyd Landis, with him William J. Davis, and Bennett & Davis, and Landis and McIntosh, for appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 407 Pa. Page 519]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BELL

The vital question raised by this appeal is the meaning of the word "money" as used in the testatrix's holographic will.

Testatrix, Edity A. Lewis, died on June 11, 1954, leaving a personal estate of $10,658, of which $251.80 was in cash, $270.25 in household goods, and $10,135.95 in stocks and bonds. Her debts and expenses of administration (which were not itemized or broken down) amounted to over $5,000. In her holographic will dated February 1, 1950, testatrix made specific cash bequests of more than $1,750. She then gave, in separate paragraphs, specific articles of silverware, china and household goods or furnishings to eight friends and one cousin. She then provided: "To Mrs. Willard (Margaret Taylor) Bates of Stevensville, Penn'a. all my personal

[ 407 Pa. Page 520]

    often sui generis. In a nutshell we attempt to discover, in the light of the language and scheme of the entire will and the surrounding circumstances, the intent of the testatrix, which is the pole star and must prevail.

Mrs. Bates contends that the words "all my personal property except as otherwise specified" is a residuary clause, and that "personal property" includes cash, stocks and bonds. Mrs. Bates is incorrect in her contention that the gift in this will of "all my personal property except as otherwise specified" is a residuary clause. She is correct, however, in her contention that personal property, when used in its ordinary (as well as in its legal) sense and meaning includes stocks, bonds, household goods and cash. Mrs. Bates also contends that "money" in its ordinary sense and meaning means "cash". "Money" in its ordinary, customary and usual meaning, does not mean stocks or bonds or real estate; it means "cash".*fn2 However, it is equally well settled that where a testator indicates an intention to dispose of his entire estate by a gift of "money", especially if the gift as here is in a residuary clause, a gift of money will pass all his personal property or all the rest of his personal property, as the case may be: Conlin Estate, 388 Pa. 483, 131 A.2d 117, and cases therein cited.

An analysis of Mrs. Lewis's will demonstrates that the personal property she bequeathed to Mrs. Bates was never intended to mean or to include cash or stocks and bonds because, inter alia, she requested that all the personal property which she gave to Mrs. Bates should not be sold. Moreover, if there were any doubt as to testatrix's intent from the language and scheme of her will, it would be resolved in favor and in support of the conclusion we have reached above, because the cash was not nearly sufficient to pay the debts,

[ 407 Pa. Page 522]

    expenses of administration and cash bequests, and many stocks and bonds would have to be sold in order to pay them.

We are convinced that this testatrix (1) intended to give Mrs. Bates only the tangible personal property which was not thereinbefore bequeathed, and (2) likewise intended the gift of "all remaining money after debts and bequests are paid" to be a gift of all her residuary personal estate, including cash, stocks and bonds, remaining after debts and requests were paid.

Disposition

Decree affirmed; each party to pay own costs.


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