This is an action by the surviving trustee and executor of the estate of Israel Joseph Bardfeld for a construction of the latter's will and for instructions in administering the trust allegedly created by said will.
The testator-settlor, late of the Borough of Vineland, County of Cumberland and State of New Jersey, died on July 4, 1948, leaving a last will and testament which was admitted to probate by the Cumberland County Surrogate on July 23, 1948. Letters testamentary were issued to Leon M. Bardfeld and Jacob Bardfeld, who were appointed executors and trustees under the terms of the will. Said executors administered the estate until July 26, 1949, at which time Leon M. Bardfeld died, and since that time the estate has been administered by the surviving executor-trustee.
The first three paragraphs of the will raise no problems. However, the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh paragraphs are of such an equivocal nature as to require a construction. Thus it is these paragraphs with which we must concern ourselves, always mindful that we must not lose sight of the four corners of the will to shed light on all portions thereof.
Said paragraphs read as follows:
"Fourth: I do devise my personal property, of whatsoever name and nature, after the bequest above set forth are set aside, unto my
executors hereinafter named, Leon M. Bardfeld and Jacob Bardfeld, to be held by them in trust, and invested by them, as such trustees, for a period of ten years after my decease, for the benefit of my four children, Leon M. Bardfeld, Jacob Bardfeld, Benjamin Bardfeld and Josephyne B. Sherman, share and share alike; and at the end of said ten year period, at the election of my said four children, said trust may either be continued, or liquidated, as the investments become due; and if liquidated, the same shall be equally divided between my four said children. None of my said children shall endeavor to compel the liquidation of said trust prior to the above ten year period, and should they institute any proceedings to enforce a prior liquidation of said trust, they shall forfeit their right to the one-fourth share to which they are entitled.
Fifth: I do devise my real estate wheresoever situate, unto my executors hereinafter named, Leon M. Bardfeld and Jacob Bardfeld, to be held in trust by them, for the benefit of my said four children, Leon M. Bardfeld, Jacob Bardfeld, Benjamin Bardfeld and Josephyne B. Sherman, and such trusteeship shall continue until such time as my said trustees shall determine it necessary to liquidate the same; and a conveyance or mortgage by said trustees or other encumbrance against said realty, executed by my said trustees shall be sufficient and proper to convey or encumber said realty.
A conveyance, assignment, transfer, or encumbrance of any interest in said real estate, or in the personal estate, left in the hands of my trustee, shall only be valid if executed by my trustees, and none of my four said children shall as individuals be privileged to convey, transfer, assign or encumber his or her interest in said trust in said realty or personalty; and any lien or encumbrance placed upon such interest by any outside party shall be of no effect, and shall not disturb the trust herein provided.
Sixth: The expense of maintaining my real estate partly occupied by any of my children for business purposes, shall be borne by them in the form of rent to be fair and equitable and determined and fixed by my trustees. So long as any of my children have use of part of my real estate at 509 Landis Ave., Vineland, N.J. they shall remain in such use upon payment of rent to my trustees as heretofore paid by them.
Seventh: None of my four children hereinabove named, who are the beneficiaries herein, shall devise or bequeath any or all of their interest in my estate, be the same real, personal or mixed, to any person or persons, except to their own respective children or spouse or either; and a devise or bequest unto any other person or persons, corporation, association or entity, shall be invalid, so far as their respective interest in my estate is ...