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Fidelity Union Trust Co. v. Byrne

Decided: September 13, 1962.


Herbert, J.s.c.


The plaintiff, a trustee, asks for the approval of its final account and for directions concerning the distribution of the estate in its hands. None of the interested parties has questioned the account but they have sharp differences about the proper solution of the problems of distribution.

On June 11, 1923, in a suit for divorce brought by Imogene Hampton against Walter E. Hampton in the New Jersey Court of Chancery, an order was entered which provided that a substantial amount of alimony be paid to Imogene and directed the establishment of the trust fund which is

now ready for final distribution. The portion of the order which is pertinent for present purposes reads:

"It is FURTHER ORDERED and DECREED that the parties hereto, petitioner and defendant, join in a deed of conveyance to effect a sale of the Montclair property standing in the name of the petitioner, for a consideration which will realize at least the sum of Twenty-Seven Thousand Dollars ($27,000.00) over and above encumbrances thereon and that such moneys when realized be made and paid over to the Fidelity Union Trust Company, of the City of Newark, New Jersey, as trustee, to invest and reinvest the same and any increment thereon representing the original investment, and to divide the income therefrom as follows: Two-thirds to the petitioner and one-third thereof to the defendant, payable semiannually or oftener at the convenience of the said trustee; in case of the death of the defendant, the entire income therefrom shall be paid to the petitioner in her lifetime if she survive him, and in the event of the death of the petitioner, the entire income shall be paid to the defendant during his lifetime; and on the death of both petitioner and defendant, the principal and corpus of said fund shall be paid to the daughter of the parties hereto, if she shall have attained the age of thirty-five years, but if she shall not have attained that age, the income in the meantime shall be paid to her; in case said daughter shall die before coming into possession of said fund, then the same shall be disposed of as she shall in her last will and testament direct.

In case the petitioner and the said daughter of the parties hereto shall both predecease the defendant, then the entire corpus invested with the Fidelity Union Trust Co. as aforesaid, shall become the exclusive property of the defendant; in case however, the petitioner shall survive both the defendant and her daughter, then upon the decease of petitioner, the corpus of the said trust estate shall be disposed of in the manner directed in the last will and testament of the defendant."

Following the signing of the order of June 11, 1923 the trust fund was brought into existence by selling the Montclair property which stood in the name of Imogene Hampton and by turning over the proceeds of sale to the plaintiff as trustee. There was also a final decree of divorce which terminated the marriage of Imogene and Walter.

Walter E. Hampton died July 22, 1928. Myra Hampton Streger, his daughter and the only child of his marriage to Imogene, died July 19, 1945. Imogene H. Hampton, the former wife of Walter and the mother of Myra, died September

8, 1960. All three of them were residents of the State of New York at the time of death and all of them left wills which have been probated in that state. Myra Hampton was born in 1896. She was married three times; she became Mrs. Silver and then Mrs. Hackett and finally Mrs. Streger. Imogene H. Hampton also remarried after her divorce from Walter; she became Mrs. Byrne and in her will called herself "Bonnie Chase Byrne."

Myra, the daughter of Walter and Imogene, had only one child by all of her marriages, namely Raymond W. Hackett, Jr., who is sometimes called Raymond Hampton Hackett. He is alive and a party to this action. By her will Myra left her entire estate to the man who had been her second husband, Raymond W. Hackett. He survived her. Dying in 1950, he left a will giving his entire estate to Blanche Sweet Hackett.

On behalf of Blanche Sweet Hackett it is contended the will of Myra disposed of the trust corpus in favor of Raymond W. Hackett, who in turn left it to Blanche. More particularly, it is argued that the entire remainder interest in the trust fund was vested ...

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