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CHRISTIE ESTATE (11/11/69)

decided: November 11, 1969.

CHRISTIE ESTATE


Appeal from decree of Orphans' Court of Montgomery County, No. 68,124, in re estate of Helen L. Christie, incompetent.

COUNSEL

Bernard J. McLafferty, with him Huganir, Butera and Detwiler, for appellant.

Peirce A. Hammond, Jr., with him Richard M. Gillis, Jr., and Harris, Hammond and Harris, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result.

Author: Bell

[ 436 Pa. Page 103]

This is an appeal from a Decree of the Orphans' Court of Montgomery County directing the Provident National Bank, as guardian of the Estate of Helen L. Christie, an incompetent, to deliver certain property to Central-Penn National Bank of Philadelphia, as executor of the Estate of Robert A. Christie, deceased.

This case involves the troublesome question of the ownership of the stock and other contents of two safe deposit boxes leased jointly by a husband and wife.

At the time of his death on April 5, 1967, Robert A. Christie and his wife, Helen L. Christie, were the lessees of two safe deposit boxes -- one at the Glenside office of the Continental Bank & Trust Company*fn1 and the other at the Jenkintown office of the Industrial Valley Bank & Trust Company.*fn2 Although the contents of these boxes included a small amount of tangible personal property and a few stock certificates registered either in Helen's name alone or in the names of Robert and Helen as tenants by the entireties, the controversy in this appeal centers on a substantial number of stock certificates which were registered in the decedent husband's name alone.

Shortly after Robert's death, Helen was adjudged an incompetent and her guardian took possession of all of the contents of the aforesaid two safe deposit boxes.

[ 436 Pa. Page 104]

In this proceeding, Robert's executor sought to recover as part of Robert's estate those stock certificates which were registered solely in Robert's name. Helen's guardian defended on the ground that Robert had created a tenancy by the entireties in these stock certificates when they were deposited*fn3 in the jointly leased safe deposit boxes, and that the stock certificates now belong to Helen by virtue of the right of survivorship. Basing its decision on the difference in the language of the contracts covering each of the two safe deposit boxes, the Orphans' Court initially ordered Helen's guardian to deliver to Robert's executor the stock contained in the Continental box which was registered in Robert's name alone, but not the stock in the Industrial box. Both parties filed exceptions. The Orphans' Court, in its final Decree sur the exceptions, directed that the stocks in both safe deposit boxes which were registered in the name of Robert alone should be delivered to his executor as part of his estate. It is from this Decree that Helen's guardian has appealed.

The case was presented to the Orphans' Court on a stipulation of facts to which was appended the safe deposit lease or contract ...


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