Camden Trust Co. v. Toone, 158/174.

CourtNew Jersey Court of Chancery
Citation57 A.2d 509
Docket Number158/174.
PartiesCAMDEN TRUST CO. et al. v. TOONE et al.
Decision Date24 February 1948

57 A.2d 509

TOONE et al.


Court of Chancery of New Jersey.

Feb. 24, 1948.

Suit in equity by the Camden Trust Company and others, as surviving executors and trustees under the will of Robert C. Taylor, deceased, against Mrytle E. Toone and others for construction of the will, declaration of complainants' rights and duties thereunder, and an injunction against proceeding with or bringing any suit to have the questions involved presented to a court of law.

Dismissal of bill advised.

Syllabus by the Court.

1. Equity respects the rights and proceedings of coordinate tribunals and is always reluctant to interfere with an action at law.

57 A.2d 510

2. Another rule, essential to the orderly administration of justice is that, as between courts otherwise equally entitled to entertain jurisdiction, that court which first obtains possession of the controversy ought to be allowed to proceed and dispose of it without interference, a rule established, of course, for the benefit of the suitor, rather than for the protection of the dignity of the court.

3. Where, on a bill for construction, there is neither doubt nor uncertainy as to the meaning of a will, there is nothing for the Court of Chancery to do but to dismiss it.

4. While it is the undoubted right of executors, and other persons charged with fiduciary duties, to ask the direction and aid of the Court of Chancery in cases where their duties or rights are involved in doubt, and to have any reasonable expense thus incurred charged against the trust property in their hands, it is also settled that the Court of Chancery will not give such persons aid or direction when they do not need it-in cases where their duty is plain and their rights are clear, and that, if they seek assistance in cases where there is neither necessity nor propriety in asking it, they will not be allowed to charge the expense thus incurred against the trust property.

5. The decision of legal questions arising on the construction of a will belongs exclusively to courts of law, except where such questions arise incidentally in the Court of Chancery and that court has obtained jurisdiction of the case for some other purpose.

French, Richards & Bradley and Samuel H. Richards. all of Camden, for complainants.

Grover C. Richman, of Camden, for defendants Mrytle E. T. Toone and Barbara E. Toone.

A. Moulton McNutt, of Camden, for defendant John Wanamaker Philadelphia.

WOODRUFF, Vice Chancellor.

The complainants prosecute this cause as surviving executors and trustees under the last will and testament of Robert C. Taylor, deceased. They pray a construction of their decedent's will, a declaration of their rights and duties thereunder, ‘and that the defendants and each of them may be enjoined and restrained from proceeding with any suit heretofore brought and from bringing any further suit to have the questions here involved presented to a court of law.’

The testator, by the sixth paragraph of his will, established a trust of the residue of his estate for the benefit of his wife, Martha E. Taylor, for her life, of his daughter, Myrtle E. Toone, for her life, of his grandchildren Barbara E. Toone and H. Grant Toone, Jr., and of ‘each and every one of the children’ of Myrtle E. Toone, living at the time of ‘the death of the survivor’ of Martha E. Taylor and Myrtle E. Toone, and of others. Martha E. Taylor is deceased; Myrtle E. Toone, Barbara E. Toone and H. Grant Toone, Jr., are living.

In said paragraph of his will, the testator directed the trustees of his residuary trust to keep the trust res invested and, in the case of Myrtle E. Toone, to pay to her during her life, certain stipulated annual sums of money in equal quarterly payments. The will contains no ‘spendthrift clause’, and no charitable trust was created.

May 22, 1947, the defendant John Wanamaker Philadelphia, recovered judgment in the New Jersey Supreme court against Myrtle E. Toone by the name Myrtle E. T. Toone, and thereupon caused an execution to be issued and a levy to be made by the Sheriff of Camden County upon ‘all the right, title and interest of Myrtle E. T. Toone in and to the Estate of Robert C. Taylor, deceased in the hands of Camden Trust Company, Executor and Trustee.’ July 8, 1947, said Sheriff made a second levy upon ‘all the right, title and interest

57 A.2d 511

of Myrtle E. T. Toone in and to the Estate of Robert...

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5 cases
  • Coates v. Ellis., 643.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 20 Agosto 1948
    ...Langston Co., D.C.D.N.J., 56 F.Supp. 577; Steiner v. Stein, 141 N.J.Eq. 478, 58 A.2d 102; Camden Trust Co. v. Toone, 141 N.J.Eq. 342, 57 A.2d 509. 4Triangle Conduit & Cable Co. v. National Elec. P. Corp., 3 Cir., 125 F.2d 1008; Crosley Corporation v. Hazeltine Corporation, 3 Cir., 122 F.2d ......
  • Somoza, Matter of
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • 27 Julio 1982
    ...434, 436, 19 A. 662 (Ch.1890), aff'd 47 N.J.Eq. 601, 22 A. 1075 (E. & A.1890). 5 See Camden Trust Co. v. Toone, 141 N.J.Eq. 342, 345, 57 A.2d 509 (Ch.1948), which noted that although equity "is always reluctant to interfere with an action at law," nonetheless "as between courts otherwise eq......
  • Vestrymen Of Christ Church In Short Hills v. Millburn Tp. .
    • United States
    • Tax Court of New Jersey
    • 24 Febrero 1948
    ...the congregation; but whether such use was in effect on the assessing date was not made clear. But even such use under the circumstances 57 A.2d 509here shown would not meet the requirements of the statute. Lastly, it is urged that the lands involved are necessary for the fair enjoyment of ......
  • Yeck v. Rietzke, A--560
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • 21 Diciembre 1954
    ...2 A.2d 183 (Sup.Ct.1938); Cohen v. Cohen, 126 N.J.L. 605, 608, 20 A.2d 594 (Sup.Ct.1941); Camden Trust Co. v. Toone, 141 N.J.Eq. 342, 346, 57 A.2d 509 (Ch.1948); Mesce v. Gradone, 1 N.J. 159, 166, 62 A.2d 394 (1948). Cf. Washburn & Campbell v. Burns and McCabe, 34 N.J.L. 18 (Sup.Ct.1869), r......
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