On August 29, 1924, Aroline C. Gove executed a deed of trust of certain real estate in Princeton, New Jersey, consisting of a parcel of land, with the buildings thereon. The pertinent provisions thereof provide that:
"First. To permit my daughter Mary Pitman to use, occupy and improve said premises or to receive the rents and profits therefrom
for and during the term of her natural life, she paying all taxes and other charges and keeping the premises insured and in good repair and condition.
"Third. Upon the death of my said daughter, Mary Pitman, my daughter Lydia P. Gove of said Salem shall succeed to the Trusteeship hereunder and the title to the Trust property shall thereupon become vested in her without any further action whatsoever and she shall have all the powers above set forth; and thereafter the Trustee hereunder shall permit the children of my said daughter Mary Pitman, or in case of disagreement, such of said children as said Trustee may determine, to use, occupy and improve said real estate, they paying all taxes, and other charges and keeping the premises insured and in good repair and condition, or in case said real estate shall be sold, then to pay the net income from the property held in trust hereunder to said children in equal shares, for and during the terms of their natural lives and the life of the survivor of them, the issue of any deceased child to take the parents share by right of representation.
"Fourth. Upon the death of the last surviving child of my said daughter Mary Pitman to convey and pay over the principal of the trust property held hereunder to the issue of my said daughter Mary, one share for each child, the issue of each deceased child to take the parents share by right of representation. In case all of said children shall have deceased without leaving any issue surviving them, then said trust property shall vest in and become the individual property of my daughter Lydia P. Gove, discharged of all trusts and without any further action whatsoever." (Italics supplied by the court.)
At the time of the establishment of this trust, the life tenant, Mary Pitman, daughter of the settlor, was 32 years of age and then the mother of one child, Aroline Pitman, now Wright. Two other children were thereafter born to the life tenant, namely, Barbara Pitman in 1925 and Dorothy Pitman, now Slade, in 1927.
The life tenant, Mary Pitman, died in 1934, survived by her three children, all of whom are the plaintiffs in this action. The married plaintiffs have three children, all infants, great grandchildren of the settlor, and are the remaindermen under the deed of trust. They are defendants in this action.
In 1939, Aroline C. Gove, the settlor, died testate, disposing of her residuary estate in trust. The beneficiaries of this trust and the trustees are also defendants.
The plaintiffs herein (secondary life tenants) agree that the Princeton property should be sold, and there is available
a purchaser who is willing to acquire same, provided that the validity of the trust deed is established by appropriate proceedings and a trustee qualified to make good title. (It would appear that the office of successor-trustee in favor of the settlor's daughter, Lydia P. Gove, effective upon the death of her sister, Mary Pitman, is vacant.) The issues as stated by the plaintiff are as follows:
1. Is the deed of trust valid in all respects?
2. Is the deed of trust invalid in part, but valid and effective in part?
3. Is the deed of trust invalid in toto ?
The pivotal question propounded necessarily and patently is, whether the deed of trust, in whole or in part, violates the rule against perpetuities. If the answer to this propounded inquiry is in the affirmative, a necessary corollary ...