The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crabtree
This is a transfer inheritance tax case wherein plaintiff seeks review of a deficiency assessment made by defendant in the amount of $109,757.41, including interest calculated to October 20, 1993. The deficiency arises from two audit adjustments:
1. Three inter vivos transfers in trust made by the decedent, Emily Ellen, on September 2, 1989, in the aggregate amount of $612,656, which defendant determined were made in contemplation of death within the purview of N.J.S.A. 54:34-1(c);
2. An increase in the date-of-death value of decedent's residence from $165,000, as reported, to $182,800.
In addition, plaintiff alleges that the estate is entitled to a credit for inheritance tax paid by the estate of decedent's brother, Max Pentel, who died testate on May 15, 1989, two and one-half years prior to the decedent, leaving his entire estate to her.
Emily Ellen died testate at the age of 93, on November 25, 1991, a resident of West New York, New Jersey. Her gross estate, including the disputed inter vivos transfers, was valued at $2,044,881. The date-of-death value of the assets involved in the disputed inter vivos transfers was $612,656, or 29.96% of decedent's gross estate.
The subject of the transfers was publicly traded securities, and the objects of decedent's benefactions were her niece, Phyllis Charny, and her grandnieces, Anna and Rena Charny, Phyllis's twin daughters. The transfers were all in the form of trust agreements. The Phyllis Charny Trust called for the payment of income to Phyllis for her life, with the remainder to Anna and Rena in equal shares. The term of each trust for the grandnieces was four years and one month, with income payable to the beneficiary (Anna or Rena) and the remainder to the Phyllis Charny Trust. The values of the assets transferred to the trusts were as follows:
Phyllis Charny Trust $504,728
Anna Charny Trust $48,254
Rena Charny Trust $59,674
Decedent's will, also executed on September 2, 1989, left her entire residuary estate in trust, with the entire net income therefrom payable to Phyllis, with the corpus distributable upon the latter's death to Anna and Rena in equal shares.
Emily Ellen maintained close and loving relationships with her family. Her sister, Harriet, had lived next door to Emily for many years. Phyllis was Harriet's daughter; Anna and Rena were Phyllis's daughters, as stated above. Because Emily married relatively late in life and had no children of her own, she regarded Phyllis as a daughter and Anna and Rena as granddaughters.
Phyllis, who lived from birth at 6100 Highland Place, West New York, New Jersey, next door to her aunt, Emily, moved to Israel after attending the University of Rochester. Emily visited Phyllis and the twins in Israel three or four times between 1973 and 1984. Anna and Rena served in the Israeli army in 1983 and 1984, following which, they came to the United States to pursue their formal educations, Anna at the University of Pennsylvania and Rena at Bryn Mawr. At that juncture, Phyllis was separated from her husband and was the sole support of her daughters. Phyllis's annual income was no more than $19,000. The total tuition, room and board for the girls was about $30,000 per year. Phyllis and her daughters relied heavily upon scholarships, government loans and financial support from Emily.
Emily frequently expressed concern for her grandnieces, of whom she was not only fond but also proud.
Emily created the trusts for Anna and Rena in 1989 to assist them in pursuing graduate studies. Anna graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and currently matriculates at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she also works as a teaching assistant in biology. Rena also returned to Israel, after graduating from ...