Appeal from decree of Orphans' Court of Delaware County, No. 47 of 1963, in re estate of Charles B. Harper, deceased.
James Patterson, with him Edward D. McLaughlin, for appellants.
Guy G. deFuria, with him Malcolm B. Petrikin, and Chadwick, Petrikin, Smithers and Ginsburg, and deFuria, Larkin and deFuria, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones.
Charles B. Harper (decedent), died October 25, 1962, survived by a widow and eight children.*fn1 Upon decedent's death, a dispute arose as to whom letters of administration c.t.a. would be issued and, after several hearings, the Orphans' Court of Delaware County
appointed G. W. Davis, a member of the bar, as the administrator c.t.a.*fn2 (personal representative).
The instant controversy arises from a public sale by the personal representative on December 6, 1963, of decedent's interest in a lumberyard business located in Ridley Park and conducted under the name of Charles B. Harper, Inc. (the corporation). Until 1959 decedent had conducted this business as an individual but in 1959 the business was incorporated with the decedent as the sole owner of all the capital stock. Although the business then had a book value of $200,000, it was incorporated for $10,000 and the balance was set up as a debt owed by the corporation to the decedent.*fn3 At the time of decedent's death this balance was carried on the corporate books as an account payable in the amount of $185,825.18.
On September 30, 1963, the personal representative received an offer to purchase decedent's interest in the corporation, i.e., the stock and the debt owed him by the corporation, for $40,000 in cash. This offer was made by Charles B. Harper, Jr. (Harper, Jr.), one of decedent's sons. Decedent's widow and one of the daughters petitioned the court to restrain this sale and Harper, Jr. then withdrew his offer.
Thereafter, the personal representative petitioned*fn4 the Orphans' Court of Delaware County to sell decedent's
interest in this corporation at a public sale. Over the objections of decedent's widow and one daughter (appellants), the court directed the sale be held on December 6, 1963. Notice of this sale was given by public advertisement and by written notice to all parties in interest, including the tax authorities. Although four or five persons appeared at the sale, only Harper, Jr. submitted a bid, said bid being in the cash amount of $40,000. The personal representative then petitioned the court to confirm this sale, the appellants filed objections to such confirmation and on December 9, 1963, the court held a hearing. The objections to the confirmation of the sale -- both as set forth in the written objections and at the hearing -- appear to have been two-fold: (1) that the personal representative had failed and refused "to have a complete audit ...