In re Fox's Estate

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtMcALVAY
Citation117 N.W. 558,154 Mich. 5
Decision Date10 September 1908
PartiesIn re FOX'S ESTATE.

154 Mich. 5
117 N.W. 558

In re FOX'S ESTATE.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

Sept. 10, 1908.


Appeal from Circuit Court, Kent County; Clarence W. Sessions, Judge.

In the matter of the estate of E. Crofton Fox, deceased. From a judgment of the circuit court on appeal from probate court determining the amount of inheritance tax due, the estate appeals. Affirmed.

Argued before GRANT, C. J., and BLAIR, MONTGOMERY, CARPENTER, and McALVAY, JJ.

[117 N.W. 559]

Kleinhans & Knappen, for appellant.

John E. Bird, Atty. Gen., and Thomas Ambrose Lawler, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.


McALVAY, J.

An appeal from an order determining the amount of inheritance tax due the state from this estate made by the probate court for Kent county, was taken to the circuit court of said county by the Auditor General acting for and in behalf of the state. There is no dispute as to the facts in the case. They were agreed to by stipulation, as follows: ‘It is hereby stipulated that the issues in this cause are set forth in the pleadings filed herein, and that the following facts, based upon the record and files which are made a part hereof, shall be taken as true, and that neither party hereto shall be required to prove any of the said matters otherwise than by this stipulation, namely: E. Crofton Fox, a resident of the city of Grand Rapids, state of Michigan, died on March 1, 1904. By his last will and testament, which was duly admitted to probate, he devised and bequethed to Elizabeth B. Nichols, his sister-in-law, the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000); to Butterworth Hospital, a charitable corporation, two thousand dollars ($2,000); and the balance of his estate to his brother, Charles Fox, a considerable portion of which latter bequest being left in trust for the benefit of the said Charles Fox, instead of being given to him absolutely. His property was inventoried after his death as follows: Real estate, $196,230; personal estate, $121,170.65. After the inventory personal property was found and added to the estate to the amount of $1,489.13. The court allowed the following expenses and claims, viz.: Funeral expenses, $220.05; administration expenses, $1,249.68; claims, $80,757.56. Among the claims allowed was a note for fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) made by the said deceased to the Michigan Trust Company of Grand Rapids, Mich., dated May 31, 1895, with interest at 5 per cent. (5%), and secured by a mortgage on certain of the real estate of said deceased in the city of Grand Rapids, which said real estate passed into the trust created by the will for the benefit of the said brother, Charles Fox. The Michigan Trust Company filed a claim for this note, and it was allowed by the probate court at the sum of fifty thousand five hundred sixty-eight dollars and seventy-five cents ($50,568.75). The probate court on July 11, 1905, determined the inheritance tax upon the net value of the personal estate, which he found to be forty thousand four hundred thirty-two dollars and forty-nine cents ($40,432.49), after deducting all of the claims and expenses above mentioned, as follows:

+------------------------------------------------+
                ¦Charles Fox (brother), real estate ¦$196,330 00¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦No tax. ¦ ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Charles Fox (brother), personal ¦ ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦estate ¦28,432 39 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Deduction ¦5,000 00 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦ ¦$23,432 39 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Tax at 1 per cent ¦234 32 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Elizabeth B. Nichols (sister-in-law)¦ ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Personal estate ¦10,000 00 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Tax at 5 per cent ¦500 00 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Butterworth Hospital, personal ¦ ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦estate ¦2,000 00 ¦
                +------------------------------------+-----------¦
                ¦Exempt corporation-no tax.” ¦ ¦
                +------------------------------------------------+
                

Said cause came on to be tried in the circuit court for the county of Kent before the Honorable Clarence W. Sessions, circuit judge presiding, and was tried by the court upon the stipulation as to facts without a jury. Later the court filed its conclusions of law in writing, upon which a judgment was entered against the estate. The estate filed exceptions to the conclusions of law of the court, and upon these exceptions errors were duly assigned. A reversal of the judgment is asked on the ground of such errors claimed to have been committed by the court.

The probate court held that sections 1 and 2 of act No. 195, p. 277, Pub. Acts 1903, were unconstitutional and void, for the reason ‘that they deny to persons the equal protection of the laws, and provide unjust discrimination instead of a uniform rule of taxation, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and the state of Michigan.’ He therefore made his determination of the amount of the inheritance tax due to the state from the estate

[117 N.W. 560]

under the law of 1899, to which the act of 1903 above referred to was an amendment. The probate court also held that the value of the real estate mortgage should be deducted from the clear market value of the personal property, instead of deducting the same from the value of the real estate. Upon both propositions the circuit court reversed the order and decree of the probate court. For the convenience of the profession we quote from the statute of 1903 the amended sections 1 and 2, the validity of which is challenged upon constitutional grounds:

‘Section 1. That after the passage of this act a tax shall be and is hereby imposed upon the transfer of any property real or personal, of the value of one hundred dollars or over, or of any interest therein or income therefrom, in trust or otherwise, to persons or corporations not exempt by law from taxation on real or personal property, in the following cases:

‘First. When the transfer is by will or by the intestate laws of this state from any person dying seised or possessed of the property while a resident of this state;

‘Second. When the transfer is by will or intestate law of property within the state, and the decedent was a nonresident of the state at the time of his death;

‘Third. When the transfer is of property made by a resident or by nonresident, when such nonresident's property is within this state, by deed, grant, bargain, sale or gift made in contemplation of the death of the grantor, vendor or donor or intended to take effect, in possession or enjoyment at or after such death. Such tax shall also be imposed when any such person or corporation becomes beneficially entitled in possession or expectancy to any property or the income thereof by any such transfer, whether made before or after the passage of this act. Such tax shall be at the rate of five per cent. upon the clear market value of such property, except as otherwise prescribed in the next section.

‘Sec. 2. When the property or any beneficial interest therein passes by any such transfer to or for the use of one or more of the following named persons: Father, mother, husband, wife, child, brother, sister, wife or widow of a son, or the husband of a daughter, or to or for the use of any child or children adopted as such in conformity with the laws of this state of the decedent, grantor, donor, or vendor, or to or for the use of any persons to whom any such decedent, grantor, donor or vendor, for not less than ten years prior to such transfer stood in the mutually acknowledged relation of a parent, or to or for the use of any lineal descendant of such decedent, grantor, donor or vendor, such transfer of property shall not be taxable under this act, unless it is personal property of the clear market value of two thousand dollars or over, in which case the entire transfer shall be taxed under this act at the rate of one per cent. upon the clear market value thereof. The exemptions of sections one and two of this act shall apply and be granted to each beneficiary's interest therein, and not to the entire estate of a decedent.’

The learned trial judge in his conclusions of law filed in the case has fully...

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27 practice notes
  • Louisville Gas Electric Co v. Coleman, No. 70
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1928
    ...Bagby's Code 1924, art. 81, § 124; Michigan, Complied Laws 1915, § 14525; Nebraska, Session Laws 1923, c. 187. See In re Fox's Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N. W. 558. The more common type of statute which taxes only the amount above the exemption, e. g., Revenue Act of 1926, 44 Stat. 9, 69 (26 ......
  • Scholle v. Hare, No. 63
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 18, 1962
    ...protected by our Constitution is the same as that preserved by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. In re Fox's Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N.W. 558.' (Quotation from Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mich. 216, 222, 234 N.W. 581, 583, 74 A.L.R. 1189; followed in Cook Coffee Co. v. Flushi......
  • Taylor v. State, No. 24
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • June 6, 1960
    ...protected by our Constitution is the same as that preserved by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.' (In re Fox's Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N.W. 558; Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mich. 216, 222, 234 N.W. 581, 74 A.L.R. 1189; Cook Coffee Co. v. Village of Flushing, 267 Mich. 131, 25......
  • Doe v. Department of Social Services, Nos. 91092
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • June 9, 1992
    ...ruled that equal protection rights under the state constitution were the same as under the federal constitution. See In re Fox Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N.W. 558 (1908), rev'd on other grounds, 159 Mich. 420, 124 N.W. 60 (1909); Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mich. 216, 222, 234 N.W. 581 (1931). Neve......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Louisville Gas Electric Co v. Coleman, No. 70
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1928
    ...Bagby's Code 1924, art. 81, § 124; Michigan, Complied Laws 1915, § 14525; Nebraska, Session Laws 1923, c. 187. See In re Fox's Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N. W. 558. The more common type of statute which taxes only the amount above the exemption, e. g., Revenue Act of 1926, 44 Stat. 9, 69 (26 ......
  • Scholle v. Hare, No. 63
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 18, 1962
    ...protected by our Constitution is the same as that preserved by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. In re Fox's Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N.W. 558.' (Quotation from Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mich. 216, 222, 234 N.W. 581, 583, 74 A.L.R. 1189; followed in Cook Coffee Co. v. Flushi......
  • Taylor v. State, No. 24
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • June 6, 1960
    ...protected by our Constitution is the same as that preserved by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.' (In re Fox's Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N.W. 558; Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mich. 216, 222, 234 N.W. 581, 74 A.L.R. 1189; Cook Coffee Co. v. Village of Flushing, 267 Mich. 131, 25......
  • Doe v. Department of Social Services, Nos. 91092
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • June 9, 1992
    ...ruled that equal protection rights under the state constitution were the same as under the federal constitution. See In re Fox Estate, 154 Mich. 5, 117 N.W. 558 (1908), rev'd on other grounds, 159 Mich. 420, 124 N.W. 60 (1909); Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mich. 216, 222, 234 N.W. 581 (1931). Neve......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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