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Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank v. Griffith

Decided: March 20, 1958.

GIRARD TRUST CORN EXCHANGE BANK, EXECUTOR AND TRUSTEE UNDER THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF WILLIAM B. GRIFFITH, DECEASED, AND HERBERT W. ROYAL AND CAMDEN TRUST COMPANY, EXECUTORS AND TRUSTEES UNDER THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF STELLA R. GRIFFITH, DECEASED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CAROLYN M. GRIFFITH, H. WILLIAM ROYAL, WILLIAM EDWIN ROYAL, DEBORAH ELIZABETH ROYAL, HERBERT W. ROYAL, DORA M. S. ROYAL, AND THE UNBORN CHILDREN OF H. WILLIAM ROYAL, DEFENDANTS



Drenk, J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).

Drenk

[49 NJSuper Page 400] This matter seeks the construction of the will of William B. Griffith and Stella R. Griffith, deceased husband and wife. Plaintiffs Herbert W. Royal and Camden Trust Company, executors of the estate of Stella R. Griffith, also seek instructions

regarding the collection of the New Jersey inheritance tax assessed against the share of Carolyn M. Griffith, a daughter of the decedents and a legatee under both wills.

With the exception of the admissibility of certain declarations made by Stella R. Griffith, the facts are admitted. The declarations were adduced in the deposition on written interrogatories of Herbert W. Royal. It appears to me that the deposition is not required in construing the will of Stella R. Griffith, so that no ruling is made upon its admissibility.

I am of the opinion that the intention of both testators is clear in their respective wills and also clear when read together, so that there is no need to apply the rules of construction, Morristown Trust Company v. McCann , 19 N.J. 568 (1955); Rosencrans v. Fry , 12 N.J. 88 (1953).

William B. Griffith and Stella R. Griffith were the father and mother of Carolyn M. Griffith. The father's estate is by far the more substantial. They made, originally, practically identical wills, each bearing the date September 19, 1953. Each will created an annuity of $1,000 per month for the daughter. The father and mother also executed practically identical codicils to the will of September 19, 1953, which do not bear upon the provisions of the respective wills creating the annuity for the daughter.

William B. Griffith died first, on April 1, 1954. The provision in his will of September 19, 1953, establishing the annuity for the daughter is as follows:

"SEVENTH: Commencing with the death of my wife, STELLA R. GRIFFITH, or with my death if my said wife shall not survive me, there shall be paid to my daughter, CAROLYN M. GRIFFITH in monthly installments during her lifetime, such sum which, together with all other income then being received by her, as shall aggregate $1,000 per month. My Trustee is authorized to pay to my said daughter such sums from the principal of the Residuary Trust as in its sole discretion shall be necessary or advisable from time to time to maintain her in the standard of living to which she had been accustomed, and for her medical care, welfare and emergency needs and the purchase of a dwelling for her if that should be desirable. In thus encroaching upon the principal of the Residuary Trust, my

Trustee shall take into consideration all other income and cash resources available to my said daughter for such purposes from all sources known to it."

The mother's will, dated September 19, 1953, contained a nearly identical provision. This will was revoked by a subsequent will made by Stella R. Griffith, dated February 21, 1955. A codicil thereto was dated September 19, 1955. Stella R. Griffith died June 12, 1956. Her will of February 21, 1955 made the following provision for the annuity to the daughter Carolyn.

"FOURTH: (a) If my daughter, CAROLYN M. GRIFFITH, survives me, then commencing with my death, there shall be paid to my daughter in monthly installments during her lifetime, such sum which, together with all other income then being received by her, as shall aggregate $1,200.00 per month. If the income of said trust shall be insufficient, the principal thereof may be used to make such payments. If there is more than sufficient income to make such payments, then such overplus shall be paid monthly to my brother, HERBERT W. ROYAL, or, if he is not living, or on his death, then to his wife, DORA M. S. ROYAL.

FIFTH: It is my intention to limit the income which my daughter, CAROLYN M. GRIFFITH shall receive from all sources to a maximum of $1,200.00 per month. Notwithstanding that intention, and in order to provide for emergencies, my trustees are authorized to pay to my said daughter such sums from the income or principal of my estate as in their sole discretion shall be necessary or advisable from time to time to maintain her in the standard of living to which she has been accustomed, and ...


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