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Burlington County Trust Co. v. Kingsland

Decided: February 20, 1952.


Haneman, J.s.c.


This is a suit by a substituted trustee, seeking instructions concerning the will of Marie Binney Earl.

Marie Binney Earl died testate on November 22, 1929, and appointed her only child, Binney W. Earl, executor and trustee by her will. In 1930 he renounced as executor and in July of 1931 as trustee. The Burlington City Loan & Trust Company was duly appointed to succeed him, as administrator c.t.a. , and the Camden Safe Deposit & Trust Company was appointed as substituted trustee but never qualified as such. In July of 1943 the Burlington County Trust Company, the plaintiff herein, was appointed substituted trustee, qualified as such, and has since been acting in that capacity.

In 1937 Binney W. Earl was declared mentally incompetent by inquisition issuing out of the former Court of Chancery of this State, and the plaintiff herein was appointed his general guardian. He has ever since been a patient in, and confined at, the Glenwood Sanitarium, Trenton, New Jersey.

At the time of the death of testatrix, her estate included a dwelling house situate in Edgewater Park, Burlington County, New Jersey, in which was located the personal property that now constitutes the trust res in question. Binney W. Earl was given a life estate in the said dwelling house and the personalty contained therein, and he and his wife, Maybelle Earl, resided therein until the time of Binney W. Earl's commitment as an incompetent. His said wife continued living in said dwelling after his commitment, until prevented from doing so by the result of proceedings,

instituted in 1938 and concluded in 1942, to foreclose a tax sale certificate on said premises by the remaindermen, who had purchased the tax sale certificate in order to protect their interests. Said tax sale certificate represented unpaid taxes for the year 1932, and its foreclosure made it necessary to find another place to store the personalty contained therein.

In 1939 the articles of personalty, the trust res , which had been left by the administrator c.t.a. in the possession of the life tenant, were stored in the safety vaults of the Burlington County Trust Company, at the request of some of the remaindermen and with the consent of the guardian of the life tenant. The said administrator c.t.a. filed its final account, which was approved by the Orphans' Court of Burlington County, and plaintiff was appointed substituted trustee under the will of the testatrix, and has been acting in that capacity since.

Florence Becadilli di Bologna, Princess di Camporeale, and Anna Becadilli di Bologna, Princess di Castelcicala, daughter of said Florence Becadilli di Bologna, Princess di Camporeale, and niece of testatrix, and a defendant herein, as well as Alexander Kingsland, another defendant herein, all remaindermen under the will, being Italian nationals, during the state of war occurring between that country and the United States of America the Alien Property Custodian of the United States became vested with title to said real estate, but has never become vested with any other interest of said Italian nationals in the estate of Marie Binney Earl.

In 1944, upon a sale by the said Alien Property Custodian of said premises to a third party, it became necessary for the guardian of Binney W. Earl to take such steps as were within his power to preserve and protect the articles of personalty. Thus the said personalty was in part stored in the Fidelity Twentieth Century Storage Warehouse Company, 1809-11-13 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the remainder was stored in the vaults of the Burlington County Trust Company at Moorestown, New Jersey, and

have been so stored since about July 3, 1944. The storage charges on both groups of said items are approximately $47.66 per month.

After the cessation of the said war, the guardian for Binney W. Earl, and counsel for the contingent remaindermen agreed to apply to this court for an order permitting them to sell the said trust res. Therefore, the case is before this court.

In this action, the plaintiff seeks the following advice and directions: (1) whether the testatrix intended the bequests of paragraph Sixth of her will to be specific or general legacies; (2) whether this court can permit the articles of the trust to be sold and the proceeds of such sale invested for the benefit of the life beneficiary and remaindermen; (3) whether the storage costs which have been paid thus far should be charged to either the life beneficiary or the remaindermen, or if to both, in what proportions, and (4) if the trust res can be sold, whether it should ...

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