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Matter of Estate of Clarence R. Wolf

Decided: November 30, 1967.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF CLARENCE R. WOLF, DECEASED; IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF C. FRANKLIN WOLF, DECEASED


Gaulkin, Lewis and Kolovsky. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kolovsky, J.A.D.

Kolovsky

Defendant Ramon Bryant Printz (Ramon) who, following the remarriage of his mother, had been adopted by his stepfather, Samuel E. Printz, appeals from judgments which determined that he "is not entitled to share" under the deed of trust dated September 1, 1964 executed by C. Franklin Wolf (C. Franklin) his natural father nor under the will of Clarence R. Wolf (Clarence) his natural grandfather.

The judgments were entered in separate actions for advice and instructions, one instituted by the trustees under the deed of trust and the executors of the father's estate; the other by the executors of the grandfather's will. The facts in each case were stipulated. The trial court "combined" the two actions for purpose of disposition, deeming them to "involve essentially the same facts and issue of law."

The stipulations reveal the following:

On May 19, 1942 a son, named Ray Franklin, was born to C. Franklin and his then wife Helen. On March 21, 1946 C. Franklin and Helen were divorced. Thereafter each remarried -- C. Franklin to Verna, Helen to Samuel E. Printz.

Under the terms of a judgment of adoption duly entered in the Atlantic County Court on June 30, 1949, Samuel E.

Printz adopted his stepson Ray Franklin Wolf and the boy's name was changed to Ramon Bryant Printz. Both natural parents, Helen and C. Franklin, had executed written consents to the adoption and change of name.

Two daughters were born of C. Franklin's marriage to Verna: Alice in 1948 and Margaret in 1950.

On September 1, 1964 C. Franklin executed a deed of trust and a will. The will bequeathed testator's entire estate, except his tangible personal property, to the trustees under the deed of trust. The terms of the deed of trust are detailed infra; it suffices to note here that among the beneficiaries named are the "Settlor's children."

C. Franklin died on May 2, 1966. Five days later, on May 7, his father Clarence R. Wolf died, leaving a will dated September 23, 1964. By that will, the provisions of which will be summarized later, "issue" of Clarence's four children, C. Franklin, Mary Elizabeth, John and Barbara, are designated to take as beneficiaries in particular circumstances.

The stipulation of facts submitted by the parties is silent as to the relationship and contacts, if any, between Ramon and his natural father, C. Franklin, following the boy's adoption in 1949. As to Ramon's association with his paternal grandfather, Clarence, we are told only that:

"In 1963, 1964 and a portion of 1965 Clarence Wolf gave Raymond Prince certain sums of money to go to school in California; at the same time, Clarence Wolf was providing funds for other persons not related to go to school, and during most of his life he was providing scholarships to any qualified person in the name of a deceased daughter and a deceased son."

In ruling that Ramon was not entitled to share either under C. Franklin's deed of trust or under Clarence's will, the trial court said:

"The sole issue is the effect of the adoption of Ramon Bryant Printz upon his legal status as an heir of Clarence R. Wolf and C. Franklin Wolf. To resolve ...


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