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DAVIS ESTATE (11/30/72)

decided: November 30, 1972.

DAVIS ESTATE


Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Montgomery County, No. 47738, in re estate of Duy Davis.

COUNSEL

Harry R. Nixon, with him A. Groh Schneider, and Schneider & Nixon, for appellant.

Robert L. Freedman, William P. Quinn, Joseph V. Restifo, with them Dechert, Price & Rhoads, and Strong, Barnett, Hayes & Quinn, for appellees.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones.

Author: Jones

[ 449 Pa. Page 507]

This is an appeal from a final decree of the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County which held that present testamentary life estates were valid, that consideration of the validity of future remainder interests under the Rule Against Perpetuities was premature, that the infectious invalidity doctrine was inapplicable and that, if the appellant life tenant had a valid remainder interest, the existence of a spendthrift clause prevented the remainder interest from merging with his life estate.

Paul A. Davis, Jr. (decedent) died testate on May 7, 1914, leaving his residuary estate to Girard Bank (then Girard Trust Company) in trust to pay the net income to his children in equal shares for their respective lives. Decedent further gave each child a general testamentary power to appoint the portion of principal from which that child's income was paid but provided that, if the child did not exercise the power, there was an absolute gift over to that child's issue.*fn1

Paul A. Davis, Jr., was survived by four children, one of whom, Duy Davis, Sr. (testator), died testate on January 1, 1942, survived by his wife, Anna B. Davis, and by his son, Duy Davis, Jr. Testator exercised his power of appointment under his father's will by bequeathing all his property to the Girard Bank in trust, providing for a life estate for his wife, Anna. He further directed that, upon his wife's death, five separate trusts were to be created: four trusts each

[ 449 Pa. Page 508]

    composed of a life estate in one-eighth the principal to Effie Ford, his housekeeper, Edna Humphries, his sister-in-law, Thomas Walsh, a neighborhood friend, and Frank Havens, his wife's nephew, respectively; the fifth trust was a life estate in the remaining one-half of the principal for the benefit of his son, Duy Davis, Jr. Upon the deaths of Ford and Humphries, the principal supporting their trusts was to be added to the trusts for the benefit of Duy Davis, Jr., Walsh and Havens; upon the death of Duy Davis, Jr., the principal supporting his trust was to be added to the trusts for the benefit of Havens and Walsh. Havens and Walsh were given general testamentary powers of appointment, with gifts over, in default of exercise of the powers, to their issue. All of the trusts created by Duy Davis, Sr. were subject to a spendthrift provision. Anna B. Davis died on February 21, 1970. Effie Ford predeceased her. Humphries, Walsh, Havens and Duy Davis, Jr., are still alive. Duy Davis, Jr., and Walsh were both born after Paul A. Davis, Jr. (decedent), died.

Following the death of Anna B. Davis in 1970, the account of Girard Bank, trustee under the Will of Duy Davis, Sr., was called for audit before the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County. Duy Davis, Jr., appeared at the audit and claimed the entire trust corpus or that portion which supported his life estate. The lower court rejected Duy Davis, Jr.'s claims and awarded the trust corpus to Girard Bank as trustee to continue the trust in accordance with its terms.

Duy Davis, Jr. (appellant) makes two arguments attacking the lower court's distribution of his father's estate. Initially, he contends that he is entitled to his father's entire estate, arguing that the future remainder interests following the life estates ...


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