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Burlington County National Bank of Medford v. Braddock

Decided: January 17, 1953.

BURLINGTON COUNTY NATIONAL BANK OF MEDFORD, ONE OF THE EXECUTORS OF AND TRUSTEES UNDER THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF JOB BRADDOCK, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ESTELLE W. BRADDOCK, J. STANLEY BRADDOCK, ETTA B. BRADDOCK, J. STANLEY BRADDOCK, JR., ROBERT C. BRADDOCK, ELEANOR BRADDOCK EASLICK, JEAN HELEN EASLICK AND ROBERTA ELEANOR EASLICK, DEFENDANTS



Haneman, J.s.c.

Haneman

The plaintiff herein, one of the executors and trustees under the last will and testament of Job Braddock, deceased, seeks the construction of the last will and testament of the latter. This construction concerns itself with paragraphs Sixth and Seventh. Involved in this construction are paragraphs Fourth, Fifth and Sixth, which read as follows:

" FOURTH: Should I predecease my wife, ESTELLE W. BRADDOCK, then and in such event I give and bequeath an equal undivided one-third part or portion of my personal estate, excluding all furniture, silverware and personal belongings, to my executors and trustees, hereinafter named, or to the survivor thereof, in trust, however to keep the same invested so far as may be deemed reasonable

and for the best interest of my estate, in the same securities and collaterals then constituting my estate, and to pay monthly and every month to my widow, the said ESTELLE W. BRADDOCK, the income arising therefrom during the term of her natural life or so long as she may remain my widow. Upon the death of my said wife, ESTELLE W. BRADDOCK, or otherwise upon her remarriage, I give and bequeath the personal property constituting the trust hereinabove named for her benefit, equally share and share alike, a one-half thereof to my executors or trustees constituted and to be distributed in accordance with paragraph Fifth of this will, and the other one-half part or portion thereof to my said son, J. STANLEY BRADDOCK, to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

FIFTH: I give, devise and bequeath to my executors and trustees as hereinafter named, an equal one-third part of all my personal estate and an equal one-half part of all of my real estate, except as hereinafter specified, to receive and pay the income arising therefrom monthly, each and every month, to my daughter, ELEANOR BRADDOCK EASLICK, during the term of her natural life, and in the event that she shall leave surviving her children of her lawful blood, such income shall be continued to be so paid by my executors and trustees, as aforesaid, for the use and benefit of such child or children until the youngest thereof shall have attained the age of twenty-five (25) years, when my said executors and trustees, or the survivor thereof, shall cause said principal fund so held in trust, as aforesaid, together with any accumulations, accruals or income or interest thereof, to be divided equally share and share alike as to said children of my said daughter, ELEANOR BRADDOCK EASLICK, per stirpes , in fee; provided, however, should my said daughter, ELEANOR BRADDOCK EASLICK, die without lawful issue surviving her, or lineal descendants, that then and in such case the principal of said trust fund so remaining in the hands of said executors and trustees, or the survivor thereof, together with accumulations, increment, interest and income thereof, shall be transferred and be paid to my nearest lineal descendants then surviving me, per stirpes , in fee.

SIXTH: I give, devise and bequeath to my said son, J. STANLEY BRADDOCK, an equal one-third part or portion of all of my personal property, except as herein otherwise stated, and an equal one-half undivided part or portion of all of my real estate to use and enjoy the same both as to principal and income, as he may deem proper, for and during the term of his natural life; provided, however, upon the death of my said son, J. STANLEY BRADDOCK, without issue of his blood or lineal descendants surviving him, that then and in such case the income from the balance of such distributive share, inherited by my said son from my estate, then remaining in his hands or for his use or benefit shall be paid to his wife, if any, during the term of her natural life or so long as she may remain his widow. But should my said son, J. STANLEY BRADDOCK, at the time of his death leave surviving him children of his lawful blood, or

otherwise lineal descendants, that then and in such case the income arising from the balance of such inheritance received by my said son from my estate, then remaining in his hands, shall be paid for the use and benefit of such child or children, or other lineal descendant of my said son, until the youngest thereof shall have attained the age of twenty-five (25) years, when the balance of said principal sum, together with increment, accruals, income and interest thereon, shall be paid to such child or children, equally, share and share alike, per stirpes , in fee. Upon the death of my said son and upon the decease of his wife or widow, or upon her remarriage, leaving no lawful issue or lineal descendants, then the said principal sum, together with any increment or accruals, income or interest thereon, so remaining as aforesaid, shall be transferred, conveyed and paid to my nearest lawful lineal descendants, equally, share and share alike, per stirpes , in fee."

The questions involving paragraph Sixth will be considered first. They are as follows:

1. Does J. Stanley Braddock take a fee or a life estate in the real and personal property?

2. If J. Stanley Braddock takes a life estate, to what extent and under what restrictions does he have the power to invade the corpus ?

3. If the provisions of said paragraph create a trust, who should act as trustee?

It is academic, of course, that the will must be studied from its four corners and the testator's intent, as derived from a study thereof, is to be effectuated. Hackensack Trust Co. v. Clark , 141 N.J. Eq. 96 (Ch. 1947), affirmed Hart, Trust Co. v. Hackensack , 142 N.J. Eq. 727 (E. & A. 1948); New Jersey Title Guarantee, &c., Co. v. Dailey , 123 N.J. Eq. 205 (Ch. 1938). The court may not substitute its judgment as to the propriety of the provisions of a will in the face of the clear language of said instrument, but must give effect to the intent so expressed. We are not concerned with what the testator meant to say, but what he did say. New Jersey Title Guarantee, &c., Co. v. Dailey , 123 N.J. Eq. 205 (Ch. 1938); Stryker v. Sands , 4 N.J. 182 (1950).

Where there is a general devise in general terms only, expressing neither fee nor life estate, ...


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