Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of In Re: Estate of Charlotte Dorrance Wright, Deceased, No. 74 of 1980.
Maurice D. Lee, III, with him, Herbert S. Riband, Jr., Of Counsel: Saul, Ewing, Remick and Saul, for appellants.
Vincent J. Dopko, Deputy Attorney General, with him, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
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Appellants, the executors of the estate of Charlotte Dorrance Wright, deceased (testatrix) appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Orphans' Court Division, dismissing Appellants' exceptions to an adjudication and decree nisi and entering the decree as a final decree.*fn1 We affirm.
Testatrix died testate on October 4, 1977. The pertinent provisions of her will involved in this appeal disposed of her property as follows:
THIRTEENTH. I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, of whatsoever kind and wheresoever situate, in equal shares, absolutely, to such of my great nieces and great nephews living at the time of my death who are descendants of my sisters. I have made no provision for my brother, John T. Dorrance, Jr., or his descendants, not because of any lack of affection, but because my said brother and his descendants are or will be amply provided for.
FOURTEENTH. Any share of principal or income of my estate which becomes distributable to a beneficiary who is a minor or a disabled
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person, shall be held in trust by my Trustees during the minority or disability of the beneficiary. The Trustees shall apply such amounts of income and principal as they, in their sole discretion, deem proper for the support, health, education and welfare of such beneficiary and shall accumulate any unexpended balance of income. Such amounts may be applied directly or may be paid to the guardian of the beneficiary, or to the parent or other person with whom such beneficiary resides or who has the care or control of such beneficiary, without the intervention of a guardian. The Trustees shall not be obliged to supervise or inquire into the application of such amounts by such person, and the receipt of such person shall be a complete release of the Trustees.
FIFTEENTH. All principal and income shall, until actual distribution to the beneficiary, be free of the debts, contracts, alienations and anticipations of any beneficiary, and shall not be liable to any levy, attachment, execution or sequestration while in the hands of my Executors or Trustees.
At the time of testatrix's death, there were eighteen (18) eligible beneficiaries, thirteen (13) of whom were minors.
The Executors determined that the minor beneficiaries' interest constituted a future interest pursuant to Section 712 of the Inheritance and Estate Tax Act of 1961 (Act of 1961).*fn2 Accordingly, the Executors filed a
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Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return and Statement of Debts and Deductions on July 3, 1978, computing the tax due on the minor beneficiaries' interest to be the value of a term for years (representing the number of years until each minor attained majority) multiplied by the appropriate rate. The Executors did not pay the tax on the future interests of the minor beneficiaries on the basis that the future interests were not vested in possession and enjoyment.
The Commonwealth filed a "Notice of Appraisement" on August 14, 1978, appraising the real estate and personalty at $2,460,000.00 and $27,262,610.62 respectively, for a total value for the estate of $29,747,610.62. No protests were filed to this appraisement.
The Commonwealth filed a second appraisement on December 15, 1978, notifying the Executors that the "life estate" appraisement in Ms. Wright's estate reflected a valuation of the "life estate residue" of $19,116,161.94, to be taxed at the 15% rate. See Section 404 of the Act of 1961, 72 P.S. § 2485-404. Neither the August 14, 1978 appraisement nor the December 15, 1978 appraisement constituted a "bill" representing the amount of tax due.
A "Life Estate Appraisement, Recapitulation and Bill" (Bill) dated December 19, 1978 was sent to the Executors by the Register of Wills of Delaware County. This Bill provided, in pertinent part:
Real Estate $2,460,000.00
Personal Property $27,262,610.62