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Matter of Estate of Mary Louise Blau

Decided: July 1, 1949.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF MARY LOUISE BLAU, DECEASED


Jacobs, Eastwood and Bigelow. The opinion of the court was delivered by Eastwood, J.A.D.

Eastwood

This is an appeal from a decree of the Hudson County Orphans' Court confirming the Master's report and directing the Howard Savings Institution, administrator, to make distribution of the estate of Mary Louise Blau, deceased. Decedent, a spinster, died intestate at Jersey City, April 10, 1942.

According to the administrator's report, it had $145,757.19 for distribution; that decedent left no next of kin nearer than first cousins and it was uncertain who were her next of kin entitled to share in her estate.

On June 16, 1944, the Orphans' Court referred the matter to William R. Gannon, a Master in Chancery, to determine the validity of the many claims and to settle and advise the court as to the next of kin of the decedent and their respective distributive shares. Hearings were commenced before the

Master on December 6, 1944, at which Mr. John J. Moriarty appeared as proctor for the Office of Alien Property Custodian, representing alien enemies alleged to have interests in the estate. At this hearing, before any testimony was taken, the Master reminded counsel representing respective interests of the limitations of the order of reference and stated:

"* * * To take testimony 'to settle and advise the court as to those who are next of kin of the decedent, and to whom and in what proportion, based on proximity of blood, the balance of the decedent's personal estate is to be paid and distributed.' That is the full, complete and only question with which I can deal at this time. And later on after we have established those relations we will go into the question of 'the method and proportion by which the Federal Estate Tax, paid by the administrator under compulsion of law, shall be apportioned among the next of kin of the decedent who are entitled both to real and personal property and those entitled to personal property only.'

"Now is it agreed that those are the limitations of this proceeding?"

To which interrogation all counsel agreed.

The Master's temporary report was filed April 23, 1946, recommending that distribution be made on the basis of first cousins, 19 shares having been established; reporting that further investigation might establish six more shares and, if decedent's father had brothers or sisters who left representatives surviving decedent, the number of persons eligible to share in the estate would be further extended.

On June 22, 1946, the Orphans' Court entered a decree of partial distribution confirming the Master's report and directing the administrator to compute 50% of the net sum remaining after payment of the expenses allowed and to divide it into 25 equal shares, 19 of which were to be distributed on a per stirpes basis to those persons enumerated in the decree; that the remaining six shares of the 25 basic shares were to be held by the administrator pending determination of their validity and that the division on the basis of 25 shares should be without prejudice to some other division if additional claims were adequately proven.

On January 17, 1947, the administrator reported to the court that it appeared that certain enemy aliens might have some interest in the distributive shares of the estate and requested the court's instructions on making final distribution. The court re-referred the matter to the Master to take further proof regarding such claims, limiting the time ...


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