No. 380 January Term 1977, Appeal from the final decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Orphans' Court Division at No. 41-74-302.
Ambrose R. Campana, Williamsport, for appellant.
Lester L. Greevy, Sr., Williamsport, for appellee, Williamsport National Bank, Admr.
Walter R. Rice, Jr., Williamsport, for appellee, Paul Rider.
John A. Felix, Williamsport, for appellee, auditor.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Manderino, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
This is an appeal from the final decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Orphans' Court Division. Appellant contests the application of the Act of May 23, 1887, P.L. 158, § 5(e), 28 P.S. § 322 (1958) [hereinafter: Dead Man's Statute]*fn1 to his testimony in support of his claim of sole ownership of certain farm machinery, equipment and livestock. Appellant is the son of the testator, Lester Rider. Testator and appellant operated a dairy farm in partnership. Appellant claims sole ownership of the dairy herd and of farm machinery and equipment preceded by an "R" on the estate inventory.
Appellant's testimonial and documentary evidence was ruled incompetent in proceedings before a special master. The special master was appointed by the lower court to ascertain the ownership of the property claimed by appellant. Appellant duly filed exceptions to the special master's report which were dismissed by the lower court. The lower court adopted the special master's report in its final decree entered on January 11, 1977. Thereafter, appellant brought this appeal.
The record reveals the following facts:
Lester Rider died testate on April 20, 1974. Testator willed his household goods and a life estate in his farm to his wife, Mazie Rider, and the residue to his sons, Paul Rider and appellant. Testator appointed his sons co-executors. Paul Rider and appellant renounced this right, and the Williamsport National Bank was appointed administrator c. t. a. on June 13, 1974. The estate of testator was inventoried and appraised in the presence of appellant. Appellant told the appraisers which items of property he owned, individually, and which items were owned by ...