Young v. Bradley
101 U.S. 782

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U.S. Supreme Court

Young v. Bradley, 101 U.S. 782 (1879)

Young v. Bradley

101 U.S. 782

Syllabus

1. Whatever may be the terms creating a trust estate, its nature and duration are governed by the requirements of the trust.

2. A, died in 1807. By his last will and testament, he devised his entire estate to B., in trust, first, to set apart a certain house and its contents, together with one-third of the net income of his estate, to his widow for her natural life; then to divide said estate into four equal parts, and allot one to his son C., another to the children of the latter, and the remaining two to his daughters D. and E. respectively; then, upon the death of said widow, to set apart to D. and E. the house occupied by her, the same being a charge against their respective shares of the estate; next to hold the shares of said D. and E. in trust for their sole and separate use, free from the control of their husbands, during their respective natural lives, but in the event of either of them dying without issue, her share should go to the children of C. The will further provided that B should have the largest powers and discretion in taking charge of and managing the estate, and authorized him to have, hold, direct, and control the aforesaid trust property according to his best judgment, and to sell and dispose of the same, or any parts thereof, from time to time, subject only to the aforesaid trusts and as freely as A. could do if living, and also in all things to have the same powers, rights, privileges, benefits, advantages as A. might have if living in all and any contracts, bargains, agreements, companies, or other compacts to which he, A., was a party. By consent of the parties interested, no division or distribution of the estate was made. The widow died in 1888, C. in 1869, and D. and E. in 1870, both of the latter without issue. In 1871, B., as trustee, conveyed certain parts of the real estate to F. Thereupon C.'s children filed this bill to have the conveyance set aside as null and void, and for a decree entitling them to the possession of the premises.

Held:

1. That at the time B. undertook to sell the property to F., the trust estate created in him by the will of A. had become extinct.

2. That his powers as trustee having ceased, his conveyance to F. was void.

William A. Bradley, of the City of Washington, died in 1867, leaving a last will and testament, as follows:

"I, William A. Bradley, of the City of Washington, being of sound disposing mind, memory, and understanding, do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all and every other will heretofore made by me."

"Item first. After the payment of my just debts and funeral expenses by my executors hereinafter named, I give, devise, and bequeath all of my estate, real, personal, and mixed, of whatever kind it may be, and wheresoever situated, to my son, William A. Bradley, Jr., and my cousin, A. Thomas Bradley, their heirs, executors,

Page 101 U. S. 783

and administrators, the survivor of them, his heirs, executors, and administrators, in trust, first, to set apart the house in which I now reside on New York Avenue, in the City of Washington, together with all and singular the household effects, including pictures, plate, books, and other chattels now therein, or therein at the time of my death, to my dear wife, to be held exclusively by her during her natural life, and out of the net income derived from my said estate of every sort to pay to her one equal third part annually, or quarter-yearly, as she may prefer, so long as she shall live."

"Next I direct my said trustees, and the survivor of them, to divide all of my said estate immediately after my death, including that which is real, personal, or mixed, into four equal parts, as near as in their or his judgment and valuation can be done, and if they cannot agree, they shall select a competent disinterested third to aid them in such division and valuation, and the decision of any two of said three persons shall determine said division and valuation, and of these parts my said trustees, or said survivor, shall allot one part to my said son, William A. Bradley, Jr.; one part to the children of my said son, now or hereafter born in lawful wedlock; one part to my daughter, Jeanette H. Linton; and one part to my daughter Sidney T. Edelin, whose portion shall embrace the property owned by me situated in Corning, Steuben County, in the State of New York and known as and termed in my family the 'Corning property,' and if either or both of my said daughters die without issue either before or after my death, her or their said fourth parts shall go to the children of my said son now and hereafter born, share and share alike, subject as to Sidney's portion to the subsequent provisions in this will."

"Next, upon the death of my said wife, I direct my said trustees and the survivor of them to add to the parts set apart to my said daughters the house specially set apart for my said wife for life, the same being an equal charge upon their portions during her said life, and charging them on their said parts each five thousand dollars for their respective interest in said property, and they or the survivor of my said trustees shall also take into possession the said household effects and other chattels, and make, according to his or their judgments, an equal distribution of the same in kind as to the whole, or in part as to some and in the proceeds of sales as to others, among the parties entitled to take real estate under this my will, and in the same proportions."

"Next, if my said daughter Sidney T. dies before her present husband, and he survives me, and she leaves no issue, then I direct

Page 101 U. S. 784

my said trustee and the survivor of them to convey to said Sidney T.'s husband, Dr. Alfred Edelin in fee simple, that part of my estate known as aforesaid as the 'Corning property.'"

"Next, I direct my said trustees and the survivor of them to hold the portions my said daughters receive under this my will in trust to and for their respective, sole, and separate use, as if femes sole, and never married, free from the control of any present or future husbands they or either of them may ever have, and not to be in any manner subject to the control or liable for the debts of such husbands for and during their respective natural lives, and if either of them dies before or after me leaving issue, such issue shall have the mother's part, share and share alike, to be held in trust for them by my said trustees and the survivor of them, until the youngest of such issue shall attain the age of twenty years, or in the discretion of my said trustees and the survivor it may appear best to terminate said trusts; and in the absence of issue of either or both of them, then to follow the dispositions hereinbefore provided in that event; but whether with or without issue of my said daughter Sidney T., nothing shall be herein understood to prejudice the conditional estate hereinbefore provided for her said husband."

"Next, I direct that upon the division into four parts hereinbefore prescribed, my said son, William A. Bradley, Jr., or his heirs, shall have and receive his portion immediately, except only his distributive share in the personal property left to my wife for her life, and free from any and all trusts whatever contained in this will."

"Item second. I give and bestow upon my said trustees and the survivor of them the largest powers and discretion in taking charge of and managing my estate, and authorize them and the survivor to have, hold, direct, and control the aforesaid trust property according to their or the survivor's best judgment, and to sell and dispose of the same, or any parts thereof, from time to time, subject only to the aforesaid trusts, and as freely as I myself could do if living, and also in all things to have the same powers, rights, privileges, benefits, advantages as I myself have or might have if living, in all and any contracts, bargains, agreements, companies, or other compacts to which I am now or may become a party."

"Item third. I nominate, constitute, and appoint my said trustees, and the survivor of them, executors and executor of this my last will and testament."

"In witness whereof, I have hereto set my hand and seal this seventh day of August, in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-six."

"W. A. BRADLEY [SEAL]"

Page 101 U. S. 785

The testator's widow died in 1868, his son in 1869, and his daughters, without issue, in 1870.

Under item second of the will, A. Thomas Bradley, the other trustee being dead, undertook as surviving trustee, in June, 1871, to convey to Mark Young certain mill property in Georgetown, whereof the testator died seised. To recover it, this bill was brought by the children of William A. Bradley, Jr., son of the testator.

The court below held the conveyance void for want of power in the trustee to make it, and granted the relief prayed in the bill. Young thereupon appealed to this court.

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