Gene M. Venzke, Carl F. Mogel, Balmer, Moegel, Speidel & Roland, Reading, H. Ober Hess, Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, Edmund L. Harvey, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellants.
David M. Kozloff, Rhoda, Stoudt & Bradley, Reading, for appellee, YMCA of Reading & Berks Co.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Appellee the Young Men's Christian Association of Reading and Berks County filed a claim against the estate of decedent Jacob L. Hain for the unpaid balance of a pledge made by decedent to appellee's swimming pool construction fund. The Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County determined that decedent had contracted to contribute $100,000, and the
court awarded appellee the unpaid balance of $94,399.38.*fn1 This appeal ensued.*fn2 Two issues are presented for our determination: (1) whether appellants lack standing to bring this appeal; and (2) whether the orphans' court erred in honoring appellee's claim against the estate. We conclude that appellants do have standing, and affirm.
Appellee asserts that appellants, as executors, lack standing to challenge the decree of the orphans' court.*fn3 Appellant Mary McQuay Hain, decedent's widow, elected to take against the will, and she and appellant American Bank and Trust Company of Pennsylvania are both executors and residuary trustees under the will. However, the exceptions to the May 16, 1974, decree of the orphans' court were filed by appellants only in their capacity as executors.
The right to appeal a decree of the orphans' court is conferred by section 792 of the Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries Code, 20 Pa.C.S. § 792 (Supp.1975), which provides in pertinent part:
"Any party in interest who is aggrieved by a final order or decree of the orphans' court division, or a fiduciary whose estate or trust is so aggrieved, may appeal therefrom to the proper appellate court. . . ."*fn4
Unless an executor has been surcharged or has been ordered to distribute more than the admitted balance in the estate, the executor is not a "party aggrieved" by the final order or decree of the orphans' court. The executor is merely a holder of the estate's assets for the purpose of administration and distribution and is not adversely affected by a decision of the orphans' court directing the distribution of those assets. Musser's Estate, 341 Pa. 1, 17 A.2d 411 (1941); Kennedy's Estate, ...