Henslee v. Union Planters Nat Bank Trust Co, No. 90

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; DOUGLAS; FRANKFURTER
Citation93 L.Ed. 259,335 U.S. 595,69 S.Ct. 290
Decision Date03 January 1949
Docket NumberNo. 90
PartiesHENSLEE v. UNION PLANTERS NAT. BANK & TRUST CO. et al

335 U.S. 595
69 S.Ct. 290
93 L.Ed. 259
HENSLEE

v.

UNION PLANTERS NAT. BANK & TRUST CO. et al.

No. 90.
Argued Dec. 4, 1948.
Decided Jan. 3, 1949.

Motion for Leave to File Petition for

Rehearing Denied Feb. 14, 1949.

See 336 U.S. 915, 69 S.Ct. 601.

Mr. Arnold Raum, of Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. Sam Polk Walker, of Memphis, Tenn., for respondents.

PER CURIAM.

Respondents are the executors and trustees of the estate of William Bate Williams. They brought this

Page 596

action for refund, with interest, of $35,899.12 of federal estate taxes and interest paid under protest. The relevant facts, set forth in respondents' complaint and admitted by the Collector's motion to dismiss, are as follows:

William Bate Williams died in 1943. Under the terms of his will, the entire gross estate of $508,411.17 was bequeathed to respondents to hold in trust for the testator's

'beloved mother, Elizabeth Bate Williams, for and during her natural life, with the full power and authority herein conferred.

'I hereby direct both my executors and my trustees to pay to my mother the sum of Seven Hundred Fifty (750.00) Dollars a month to be used by her as she sees fit. In the event the income from my estate is not sufficient to pay the said Seven Hundred Fifty ($750.00) Dollars each month, then my executors and trustees are hereby empowered, authorized and directed to encroach on the corpus of the estate to pay said amount and to sell any of my property, real or personal, for this purpose.

'In addition to this amount my said executors and trustees are authorized and empowered to use and expend in their discretion any portion of my estate, either income or principal, for the pleasure, comfort and welfare of my mother.

'The first object to be accomplished in the administration and management of my estate and this trust is to take care of and provide for my mother in such manner as she may desire and my executors and trustees are fully authorized and likewise directed to manage my estate primarily for this purpose.'

The will went on to provide for distribution of the corpus of the estate remaining at the mother's death. Twenty-five per cent of the total remaining estate was bequeathed to the testator's cousin, and stated sums in

Page 597

cash were left to other named legatees. After these legacies, the balance of the estate was directed to be paid over to four named charities, in equal shares.

At the time of the testator's death the estate was earning a net income of approximately $15,000 per year, $6,000 more than the amount directed to be paid, at $750 per month, to the testator's mother. The mother at that time was eighty-five years old, lived on substantially less than $750 per month, and had independent investments worth approximately $100,000 which netted her an income of about $300 per month. A woman of moderate needs and without dependents, she died three years later without having requested respondents to invade the trust corpus in her behalf.

The disputed estate tax liability resulted from respondents' attempt to deduct from the gross estate the portion bequeathed to the four charities, in reliance on the charitable deduction provision of § 812(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. 1 The Commissioner denied the deduction. The Collector here resists the refund claim, on the ground that the possibility of invasion of the corpus on behalf of the testator's mother prevented the ultimate charitable interest, at the testator's death, from being 'presently ascertainable, and hence severable from the interest in favor of the private use,' within the meaning of the applicable Treasury Regulation.2

Page 598

On the authority of Merchants Nat. Bank of Boston v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 320 U.S. 256, 64 S.Ct. 108, 88 L.Ed. 35, the District Court granted the Collector's motion to dismiss. 74 F.Supp. 113. The Court of Appeals reversed. 6 Cir., 166 F.2d 993. It held that, notwithstanding the language of the testamentary provision for the 'pleasure, comfort and welfare' of the mother, the complaint's allegations of the mother's great...

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308 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Cerilli, No. 78-2105
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • June 29, 1979
    ...me refuge: "Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters Bank, 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 293, 93 L.Ed. 259 (1949) 5 United States v. Hathaway, 534 F.2d 386, 393 (1st Cir.), Cert. denied, 429 U.S. 819, 97 S.Ct......
  • Penn Millers Ins. Co. v. U.S., No. 5:06-CV-16-D(3).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • January 18, 2007
    ...too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters Nat. Bank & Trust Co., 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 93 L.Ed. 259 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., The FTCA permits a claimant to sue the United States for "the negligent or wrongful......
  • State v. Oliver, No. 133A82
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • September 27, 1983
    ...often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters National Bank & Trust Co., 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 293, 93 L.Ed. 259 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., I accept the majority's definition of the "especially heinous" aggravating cir......
  • Hosaflook v. Consolidation Coal Co., No. 23045
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 19, 1997
    ...often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters National Bank & Trust Co., 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 293, 93 L.Ed. 259, 264 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., Standard of Review We are mindful that "[a] circuit court's entry of summ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
308 cases
  • U.S. v. Cerilli, No. 78-2105
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • June 29, 1979
    ...me refuge: "Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters Bank, 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 293, 93 L.Ed. 259 (1949) 5 United States v. Hathaway, 534 F.2d 386, 393 (1st Cir.), Cert. denied, 429 U.S. 819, 97 S.Ct......
  • Penn Millers Ins. Co. v. U.S., No. 5:06-CV-16-D(3).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • January 18, 2007
    ...too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters Nat. Bank & Trust Co., 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 93 L.Ed. 259 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., The FTCA permits a claimant to sue the United States for "the negligent or wrongful......
  • State v. Oliver, No. 133A82
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • September 27, 1983
    ...often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters National Bank & Trust Co., 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 293, 93 L.Ed. 259 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., I accept the majority's definition of the "especially heinous" aggravating cir......
  • Hosaflook v. Consolidation Coal Co., No. 23045
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 19, 1997
    ...often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters National Bank & Trust Co., 335 U.S. 595, 600, 69 S.Ct. 290, 293, 93 L.Ed. 259, 264 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., Standard of Review We are mindful that "[a] circuit court's entry of summ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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