Lloyd v. Fulton - 91 U.S. 479 (1875)
U.S. Supreme Court
Lloyd v. Fulton, 91 U.S. 479 (1875)
Lloyd v. Fulton
91 U.S. 479
1. As the provision of the English Statute of Frauds touching promises made in consideration of marriage is in force in Georgia, a promise there made, but not in writing, to settle property upon an intended wife, is void. Such promise after marriage is also void for want of consideration.
2. The indebtedness of a husband at the time of his execution of a conveyance by way of settling property in trust for the sole and separate use of his wife and children is only a presumptive proof of fraud which may be explained and rebutted, and this being the established doctrine in Georgia, where the property in question is situate, such a conveyance was upheld against existing creditors where the debtor reserved property greater in value than two and a half times the amount of his debts, and where the transaction rested upon a basis of good faith, and was free from the taint of any dishonest purpose.
Fulton, the appellee, having by his marriage acquired large means, which he had verbally agreed before and after his marriage should be held for the sole and separate use of his wife, executed the following indenture:
"STATE OF GEORGIA, Columbia County"
"This indenture, made this, the fourteenth day of September, 1864, between Montroville C. Fulton, of the county and state aforesaid, of the first part, and James S. Hamilton, of the same county and state, of the second part, witnesseth that said party of the first part, for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which he has and bears towards his wife, Virginia C. Fulton, as well as in consideration of the sum of ten dollars to him in hand paid by said party of the second part at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, hath given, granted, bargained, sold, delivered, released, conveyed, and confirmed, and by these presents doth give, grant, bargain, sell, deliver, release, convey, and confirm, unto the said party of the second part, and to his successors and assigns, subject to the uses and trusts hereinafter expressed, the following described real and personal property, to-wit [the description of the property is omitted]."
"In trust, nevertheless, to and for the sole and separate use, benefit, and behoof of Virginia F. Fulton, wife of the said party of the first part, for and during the term of her natural life, free from the debts, liabilities, or contracts of the said party of the first part, or any future husband, with remainder at her death to her children then in life, or who have issue alive at that time (the issue of any deceased child taking the parent's proportionate share); but should she die leaving no child, or issue of a child, surviving her, then with remainder to her heirs at law. Provided
always, and it is distinctly understood, that said Virginia F. Fulton, at any time after the execution of these presents, during coverture or widowhood, may, by her last will and testament, give, demise, or bequeath the entire trust estate, with income and increase thereof, to such person or persons as she may see fit, as if she were sole and unmarried; but in case of her death without leaving any will, or of any legal disability to make a will, then the trust estate shall, after her death, vest as aforesaid in her children or other heirs in law. And provided further that the said Virginia F. Fulton shall be authorized at any time, upon the death, resignation, or removal of the party of the second part, or any of his successors, by instrument in writing, under her hand and seal, to appoint the said party of the first part, or any other fit and proper person, trustee in the place and stead of the previous trustee; and the person so appointed shall immediately and ipso facto become entitled to all the right and authority hereinafter granted, unless restrained in the deed of appointment, which said Virginia F. shall be authorized to do. And provided also that the said party of the second part, or the party of the first part in the event of becoming trustee under this instrument, shall be authorized at any time to sell, mortgage, lease, exchange, or otherwise dispose of at discretion, the trust estate, or its increase, or any portion thereof, reinvesting the proceeds in such other property, real, personal, or mixed, as may be deemed best by him; and shall also be authorized, for the purpose of supporting, maintaining, and educating the said Virginia F. and her children, to encroach upon the corpus of the estate without authority from any court. That all subsequent trustee or trustees shall only be authorized to sell, lease, or exchange, and to reinvest, upon the written consent of said Virginia F., and for the purpose of support, maintenance, and education shall only be allowed to encroach upon the corpus during the existing war, and upon the written direction of said Virginia F. so to do."
"And provided finally that the separate receipt of the said Virginia F., notwithstanding coverture, shall be a sufficient and legal discharge to the party of the second part or party of the first part (in the event of his appointment as trustee) for the yearly income of the trust estate, or any portion of the corpus consumed, and maintenance and education, and that they shall not be required to make annual or other returns to the court of ordinary or other court. That in the event of the death of the said Virginia F. without making a will, and leaving children, or issue of children, the party of the second part or the party of the first part, if the
trustee, shall be authorized to keep the estate together, exercising the same power hereinbefore granted until such time as he shall deem it advisable to distribute the estate among the remaindermen; but in the event of the death of the said Virginia F. intestate, and leaving no child, or issue of a child, surviving her, then the trustee for the time being is to distribute the estate among the heirs at law immediately."
"In witness whereof, the said party of the first part hath hereunto set his hand and seal, the day and year first above written in duplicate."
"MONTROVILLE C. FULTON [L.S.]"
"Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of us,"
"B. B. WILKERSON"
"J. E. SMITH"
"E. J. SHORT, J.I.C."
The property conveyed, exclusive of slaves, was of less value than that reserved, and the latter was, at the date of the indenture, worth more than double the amount of all his indebtedness.
The original trustee having resigned his office, the appellee was appointed in his stead. He had given his two promissory notes bearing date May 16, 1861, one payable Sept. 1 then next ensuing, and the other Sept. 1, 1862, each for the sum of $5,000, to James Lloyd. Suit having been brought upon these notes, judgment was rendered against him, May 15, 1871, and an execution levied upon the trust property. He, as trustee, thereupon sued out an injunction restraining a sale. The circuit court having decreed in his favor, the case comes here on appeal.
The facts are further stated in the opinion of the Court.
Sec. 1954 of the Code of Georgia, in force Sept. 14, 1864, reads as follows:
"Acts Void against Creditors -- The following acts by debtors shall be fraudulent in law against creditors, and as to them null and void, viz.:"
"1. Every assignment or transfer by a debtor, insolvent at the time, of real or personal property of any description, to any person, either in trust or for the benefit of himself or anyone or more of
his creditors, or any person appointed by him, to the exclusion of any other creditor in the equal participation of such property, unless such assignment or transfer is a bona fide sale, in extinction, in whole or in part, of the debt of the purchaser, and without any trust or benefit reserved to the seller or any person appointed by him."
"2. Every conveyance of real or personal estate by writing or otherwise, and every bond, suit, judgment, and execution, or contract of any description, had or made with intention to delay or defraud creditors, and such intention known to the party taking; a bona fide transaction on a valuable consideration, without notice or ground for reasonable suspicion, shall be valid."
"Every voluntary deed or conveyance, not for a valuable consideration, made by a debtor insolvent at the time of such conveyance."