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Lawrence v. Westfield Trust Co.

Decided: November 8, 1948.

ALEXANDER K. LAWRENCE, ET ALS., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE WESTFIELD TRUST COMPANY AND LOUIS LAWRENCE, TRUSTEES OF THE ESTATE OF MARIE DEPUI NORTON, ET ALS., DEFENDANTS



Civil action.

Stein, J.s.c.

Stein

This complaint is brought for construction of the last will and testament of Marie DePui Norton and for judgment as to whether the release executed by Louis Lawrence, life tenant, of his life estate, had the effect of accelerating the trust and immediate distribution of the corpus of the trust to the remaindermen.

Marie DePui Norton died testate, a resident of the Township of Cranford, Union County, New Jersey, in 1922. Her last will and testament was admitted to probate by the Union County Surrogate on May 20, 1922, and letters testamentary were issued to Solon Lathrop Norton, the decedent's husband, who was named as the executor and trustee therein. The said Solon Lathrop Norton died on October 28, 1922, whereupon the Cranford Trust Company was appointed administrator with the will annexed. On February 9, 1923, the Cranford Trust Company was relieved of its duties as administrator c.t.a. , and letters of substituted administration were issued to Louis Lawrence, a son of the testatrix, and to the Westfield Trust Company. The substituted administrators qualified as trustees and are administering the estate in that capacity.

Under the fourth paragraph of her will, the testatrix bequeathed all the rest, residue, and remainder of her estate to her executor and trustee therein named, to pay one-half of the net income therefrom to her husband, Solon Lathrop Norton, for life, and the remaining half to her son, Louis Lawrence, for life and further directed that should her husband, Solon Lathrop Norton, die before her said son then all of the net income from the estate was to be paid to her son. In the event of the death of her said son leaving lawful issue him surviving, then the share of the income which he would have received if living was by her will to be paid and divided among said issue, share and share alike. Upon the death of both her husband and son, testatrix devised all of her property to the

lawful issue of her son, to be divided among them share and share alike.

Solon Lathrop Norton died October 28, 1922. The son, Louis Lawrence, at the time of the filing of the bill of complaint was 76 years of age. He has five children, Stuart N. Lawrence, Alexander K. Lawrence, Robert L. Lawrence, Marie L. Loblein, and Solon L. N. Lawrence. The said Louis Lawrence also has five grandchildren, who are infants, and for whom I. Grant Scott, Clerk, was appointed as guardian ad litem.

On November 18, 1946, Louis Lawrence, the surviving life tenant, executed an instrument purporting to be a release of any right, title, and interest that he might have in the life estate created under the testatrix' last will and testament.

The word "issue" as used in a will may be given its ordinary meaning or may be given a more restricted meaning. In its ordinary sense, the word "issue" includes grandchildren and remoter descendants as well as children, but where it is apparent from the will that the testator intended that the word be given a restricted meaning that intention will be attributed to the word.

In Pierson v. Jones , 108 N.J. Eq. 453, the rule is expressed as follows:

"The correct rule is well stated by Chancellor Magie in Inglis v. McCook , 68 N.J. Eq. 27 (at p. 39), as follows:

'But when used in a will a more restricted meaning may be attributed if, from the terms of the testamentary disposition, it clearly appears that the testator used the word in a particular ...


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