Williams v. Cobb
242 U.S. 307 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Williams v. Cobb, 242 U.S. 307 (1916)

Williams v. Cobb

No. 125

Submitted November 17, 1916

Decided December 18, 1916

242 U.S. 307

Syllabus

Defendant and another, executors, seeking in good faith to follow a testamentary direction to invest a sum in "interest bearing securities," on certain trusts, caused to be transferred to themselves as trustees certain National Bank shares belonging to the estate. Thereafter, their final account as executors, explaining this transaction and reporting the estate wholly distributed except for these shares, was approved by the proper court of Wisconsin. The bank afterwards becoming insolvent, suit was brought by the receiver to recover the amount of an assessment levied upon the shares by the Comptroller of the Currency, the bill seeking to hold the defendant, (who had received a larger amount as legatee) under a Wisconsin law making distributees liable for debts of estates in certain cases.

Held

(1) That whether or not the shares were "interest bearing securities," the transfer was not void.

(2) Title being in the trustees, the estate was not liable for the assessment, and consequently defendant could not be held as a distributee under the Wisconsin statute.

At common law, executors have implied authority to pass title to personal assets of the estate -- a rule which has not been modified in Wisconsin.

Page 242 U. S. 308

Section 2091, Wisconsin Statutes, 1913, providing that conveyances made by trustee in contravention of express trusts shall be absolutely void, does not apply to personal property.

219 F. 663 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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