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TOWNSEND WILL (11/11/69)

decided: November 11, 1969.

TOWNSEND WILL


Appeals from decree of Orphans' Court of Montgomery County, No. 66431, in estate of Mary H. Townsend, deceased, and from decree of Orphans' Court of Montgomery County, No. 66759, in trust inter vivos Mary Hanlon Townsend, Settlor.

COUNSEL

Arthur A. Moorshead, with him Moorshead & Niccolo, for appellant.

Philip A. Bregy, with him MacCoy, Evans & Lewis, for appellees.

Joseph Neff Ewing, with him Arthur C. Dorrance, Jr., J. Brooke Aker, Thomas S. Weary, and Dechert, Price & Rhoads, and Smith, Aker, Grossman & Hollinger, and Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul, for appellees.

Bell, C. J., Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Bell

[ 436 Pa. Page 187]

Mary H. Townsend died on October 1, 1965, leaving a last will dated June 14, 1965. Prior to her death, she had created an inter vivos deed of trust dated July 11, 1963, which was subsequently amended on February 20, 1964, March 6, 1964 and June 14, 1965. Mary Townsend Cochran, who is testatrix's niece by marriage,*fn1 evidently disappointed in the share of the decedent's substantial testamentary and inter vivos estate which she was given, has vigorously engaged in multi-litigation in these estates.

Prior to the present appeals, Mary contested the validity of the 1965 will and of the aforesaid deed of trust and the several amendments thereto on several grounds, including particularly forgery and undue influence, and sought sweeping, widespread discovery. In Townsend Will, 430 Pa. 318, 241 A.2d 534, we rejected all her contentions and affirmed the Decrees of the Orphans' Court, which had sustained the validity of all of the above-mentioned documents. The Supreme Court of the United States, on November 12, 1968, denied Mary's petition for a writ of certiorari in those proceedings: Cochran v. Morris, 393 U.S. 934.

Subsequent to the filing of our Opinion in Townsend Will, 430 Pa., supra, and our refusal to grant reargument, three accounts were filed for audit and adjudication in the Orphans' Court: (1) the account of the executors of the Estate of Mary H. Townsend, (2) the account of the administrator pendente lite, and (3) the account of the trustees of the inter vivos trust. Objections were filed by Mary to each of these accounts and to the petitions for adjudication. On September 26, 1968, the accounts were confirmed nisi by the Orphans' Court, with the following notation: "Final confirmation

[ 436 Pa. Page 188]

    of this adjudication is suspended until such time as the United States Supreme Court acts upon the petition for writ of certiorari filed by Mary Townsend Cochran. If certiorari is denied confirmation will become absolute 10 days thereafter. If certiorari is granted final confirmation is suspended and all further proceedings stayed."

Following the denial of the petition for certiorari by the Supreme Court of the United States, Mary filed petitions for review of the adjudications, in which she requested that the adjudications be set aside and that a new trial be ordered at which she would be given the opportunity to present additional testimony relating to the forgery of certain of the decedent's checks drawn on the decedent's bank account, in order to show (a) forgery of the aforesaid will and trust, and (b) undue influence.*fn2 In addition, Mary filed a pleading entitled "Exceptions to Adjudications dated September 26, 1968."*fn3 In response or answer to the petitions for review, certain charitable beneficiaries of the will of Mary H. Townsend filed preliminary objections and Mary countered by filing a "Response" to the preliminary objections. Mary followed her "Response" by petitions for review of the original Opinion and Decree of the Orphans' Court which we had earlier affirmed in Townsend Will, 430 Pa., supra. Further preliminary objections were filed by the charitable ...


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