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BELEMECICH ESTATE. (07/02/63)

July 2, 1963

IN RE BELEMECICH ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 84, Jan. T., 1963, from decree of Orphans' Court of Delaware County, No. 146 of 1960, in the matter of estate of Anton Belemecich, deceased. Decree affirmed; reargument refused July 23, 1963.

COUNSEL

C. Francis Fisher, with him R. Paul Lessy, and Brenlove & Fisher, for appellant.

Vincent X. Yakowicz, Deputy Attorney General, with him Walter E. Alessandroni, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

R. J. Lucksha, amicus curiae, in propria persona.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 411 Pa. Page 507]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Anton Belemecich, a resident of Delaware County, died intestate on October 13, 1958, leaving some $70,000. His estate was administered in the orphans' court of that county, which determined the heirs at law to be a sister, a nephew and three nieces living in Yugoslavia. The auditing judge ordered the funds in the hands of the fiduciary to be paid to the Department of Revenue of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania without escheat, in compliance with the Act of July 28, 1953, P.L. 674, § 2, 20 P.S. § 1156, which provides: "Whenever it shall appear to the court that if distribution were made a beneficiary would not have the actual benefit, use, enjoyment or control of the money or other property distributed to him by a fiduciary, the court shall have the

[ 411 Pa. Page 508]

    power and authority to direct the fiduciary (a) to make payment of the share of such beneficiary at such times and in such manner and amounts as the court may deem proper, or (b) to withhold distribution of the share of such beneficiary, convert it to cash, and pay it through the Department of Revenue into the State Treasury without escheat."

This Act carries the sobriquet of "Iron Curtain Act" because its purpose is to protect the moneys, physically in America, but belonging to people who fatefully find themselves behind the Iron Curtain of Communism. It is a commendable and salutary piece of legislation because it provides for the safekeeping of these funds even with accruing interest, in the steelbound vaults of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until such time as the Iron Curtain lifts or sufficiently cracks to allow honest money to pass through and be honestly delivered to the persons entitled to them. Otherwise, wages and other monetary rewards faithfully earned under a free enterprise democratic system could be used by Communist forces which are committed to the very destruction of that free enterprising world of democracy.

The Consul General of Yugoslavia, Drago Novak, who appeared at the hearing before the orphans' court as an attorney-in-fact for the named heirs of Anton Belemecich, excepted to the findings of the court. His exceptions were dismissed and the court then amended its adjudication to allow $500 to be paid to each of the heirs through the attorney for the Yugoslavian consul who was charged "with the responsibility of securing receipts in writing, containing completely-itemized statements of any and all expenses, charges and deductions, if any, which may have been made, and the exact ...


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