Slayton v. Fitch Home, Inc.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation293 Mass. 574
Decision Date27 February 1936
PartiesG. NOYES SLAYTON, executor, v. THE FITCH HOME, INC.,& others.

November 14, 1935.

Present: RUGG, C.


Devise and Legacy Power.

A testatrix, who had a general power of appointment by will over property in which she had a life interest, made her will at a time when she had property adequate to pay all her debts, all general legacies in her will, and all expenses of administration. At her death, her property was sufficient to pay her debts and the expenses of administration, but not also to satisfy in full all such legacies. She impliedly exercised her power of appointment by a general residuary clause. Held, that it was not the intent of the testatrix also to exercise her power of appointment by the general pecuniary legacies, and that the property subject to appointment could not be used to make up deficiencies to the pecuniary legatees under her will, but should pass, intact, with all income which had accrued thereon since her death, to the beneficiaries named in the residuary clause of her will.

BILL IN EQUITY for instructions, filed on May 7, 1934, in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Norfolk, by the executor of the will of Margaret C. Slayton, late of Brookline.

The suit was reserved by Donahue, J., upon the bill answers, and an agreed statement of facts for determination by the full court.

The case was submitted on briefs.

T. Parker & W.

E. McKee, for The Christian Science Pleasant View Home and another.

J. E. Kelley, for The First Church of Christ Scientist of Melrose.

D. W. Corcoran, for the guardian ad litem of Alice G.

Sheldon and others.

PIERCE, J. This is a petition for instructions brought by the executor of the will of Margaret C. Slayton. It is before this court on reservation by a single justice upon the petition, answers and agreed statement of facts.

None of the facts stated in the petition are controverted. No question of the due appointment of the fund arises. There are no specific or deferred legacies in the will and all creditors have been paid. The trustee appointed by the donor of the fund has already paid in part, and ultimately will pay over, the remainder of the fund and accrued interest to the executor of the donee-testatrix for distribution.

The material facts gathered from the petition for instructions which are admitted by the answers and from the agreed statement of further facts are as follows: In 1902 the testatrix married John C. F. Slayton, a widower with two minor children, Louise and Ralph. These children looked upon the testatrix as their mother and the home life of the group was ideal. Slayton died January 4, 1922, leaving a will which was duly probated on February 2, 1922. Provisions of the will material to the issues of this case are as follows: "Eleventh. -- To the Boston Safe Deposit & Trust Company, a corporation duly organized and established under the laws of said Commonwealth, and having its usual place of business in said Boston, in said Commonwealth, its successor or successors all the rest and residue of my estate, in trust NEVERTHELESS, first, -- to divide the said fund into three equal parts, and to hold, manage, invest and reinvest said fund in such securities and properties as it shall in its discretion decide upon for the benefit of my wife Margaret C. Slayton, my daughter

Louise M. Sheldon, and my son Ralph F. Slayton, respectively, no purchaser or purchasers at any sale or sales made by said trustee in the management of said trust fund to be responsible for the application of the purchase money; -- secondly, -- to pay over to said beneficiaries after deducting all proper charges, the net income of their respective parts of said trust fund . . . . Twelfth. -- I hereby authorize and direct said trustee to pay at any time to my said wife Margaret C. Slayton, from the principal of her part of said trust fund, such sum or sums as she may request in writing, said sum or sums not to exceed the amount of Five Thousand (5000) Dollars in any one year, and upon her decease to pay over any balance of said principal then remaining to such person or persons, and in such manner as she may direct by will, or in the event of her not disposing of said fund by will, to pay the same over to her legal heirs. My meaning and intention is to give my said wife full authority to dispose by will of her part of said trust fund."

Margaret C. Slayton died July 15, 1932, leaving a will dated June 30, 1927, which was duly admitted to probate on November 1, 1933, in accordance with an agreement of compromise. After providing for payment of debts and funeral expenses by the executor out of the estate, and after eleven general pecuniary legacies in various amounts, the will continues: "FOURTEENTH: All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, real, personal or mixed, of whatsoever nature, kind or description and wheresoever situated, of which I may die seized or possessed or in which I may have any interest, divided or otherwise, at the time of my decease, I give, devise and bequeath to Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company, of Boston, Massachusetts, a Massachusetts corporation IN TRUST, NEVERTHELESS, to invest, reinvest and to keep the same invested, and to collect, recover and receive the rents, issues, income, interest and profits thereof, and after deducting all proper charges incident to the administration of this trust, to pay the same in quarterly installments of equal amounts, or as nearly equal as possible, to, and to be divided equally among, share and share alike, such of my grandchildren as survive me, my grandchildren at present being Alice Gertrude Sheldon, Jean Margaret Sheldon, Fremont Slayton Sheldon, children of Louise S. Sheldon, and John Fremont Slayton, child of Ralph F. Slayton. When the youngest of my grandchildren above named, or any others who may be born prior to my decease, shall have reached the age of thirty years, I direct that this trust shall terminate and that my said Trustee shall divide the principal fund, together with any accumulated income then in its hands, among, and pay the same equally to, share and share alike, each of my grandchildren in life and being at that time. In the event that any of said grandchildren shall have predeceased the youngest of my grandchildren before he or she becomes thirty years of age, leaving issue him or her surviving, I direct my said Trustee to pay over to such issue the share which their parent would have received had that parent been alive when the youngest of my grandchildren reached the age of thirty years." One of the legatees in the will, not related to the testatrix, predeceased her, and the legacies provided for in the will and now payable amount to $19,500.

At the time the will was drafted, Mrs. Slayton possessed securities reasonably worth $25,557. Her entire individual personal property coming into the hands of her executor was of an inventory value of $13,745.05, and a parcel of real estate in Florida...

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2 cases
  • Hopkinson v. First Nat. Bank of Provincetown
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 27, 1936
    ......37, 70 S.E. 480, Ann.Cas.1912D, 95. See, also, Stetson Press, Inc., v. Bunsen Oil Burner Corp., 285 Mass. 291, 293, 189 N.E. 103;Mann v. ......
  • Slayton v. Fitch Home, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 28, 1936

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