Edward J. Hardiman, Lansdale, for appellant.
Elmer L. Menges, Ambler, for Ruth D. Slight.
Robert G. Rosen, Lansdale, for intervenors, Laura S. Williams and Anita E. Glazier.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Nix and Manderino, JJ., join.
On April 19, 1974, Frank R. Slight was declared incompetent*fn1 by the orphans' court division of the court below, and the Union National Bank & Trust Company of Souderton was appointed guardian of his estate.*fn2 Several months later the incompetent's wife, Ruth D. Slight, petitioned the court to authorize and direct the guardian to pay to her, as support and maintenance, the sum of $100 per week from her husband's estate.*fn3 After a hearing, the trial court granted the requested relief.*fn4 Exceptions to the decree nisi were overruled and a final
decree entered. The guardian has appealed.*fn5 We will reverse.
The guardian first contends that payments from its ward's estate to appellee are prohibited by the terms of an antenuptial agreement between the Slights. Paragraph 4 of the agreement provides:
" Declaration of Agreement. This indenture witnesseth that each of them, the husband and wife, hereby declares it to be his and her intention and desire that during their marriage each of them shall be and continue completely independent of the other as regards the enjoyment and disposal of all property, whether owned by either of them at the commencement of the marriage or coming to them or either of them during the marriage. Each of them hereby agrees with the other, in view and consideration of the proposed marriage, that so far as is legally possible, by their private act, declaration, and agreement, all property belonging to either of them at the commencement of the marriage or coming to either of them during the marriage shall be and is enjoyed by him or her, and be subject to the dispositions of him or her as his or her separate property, and after the death of either it shall be free from any claim by the other on account of any statutory right, in the same manner as if the proposed marriage had never been celebrated."
Arguing that the clear intention of these words was to maintain each party's respective property interests entirely separate and distinct both throughout coverture and after the death of either spouse, appellant insists that the lower court's decree was tantamount to a determination of the invalidity of the ...