United States v. Wells,
283 U.S. 102 (1931)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Wells, 283 U.S. 102 (1931)

United States v. Wells

No. 252

Argued March 13, 1931

Decided April 13, 1931

283 U.S. 102


1. Whether a gift inter vivos was made "in contemplation of death" within the meaning of the Revenue Act of 1918 depends upon the donor's motive, to be determined in each case from the circumstances, including his bodily and mental condition. Pp. 283 U. S. 115, 283 U. S. 119.

2. A gift is made "in contemplation of death" when the motive inducing it is of the sort that leads to testamentary disposition, but not when the motive is merely to attain an object desirable to the donor in his life, as where the immediate and moving cause of transfers was the carrying out of a policy, long followed by the decedent in dealing with his children, of making liberal girts to them during his lifetime. Pp. 283 U. S. 117, 283 U. S. 119.

3. A transfer may be "in contemplation of death" though not induced by a fear that death is near at hand. Pp. 283 U. S. 113, 283 U. S. 119.

4. Upon review of a judgment of the Court of Claims, the findings of fact are to be treated like the verdict of a jury and cannot be added to or modified by reference to that court's opinion. P. 283 U. S. 120.

Page 283 U. S. 103

5. But absence of a finding of an ultimate fact does not require a reversal, if the circumstantial facts a found are such that the ultimate fact follows from them by necessary inference. Pp. 283 U. S. 111, 283 U. S. 120.

So held where the opinion of the Court of Claims showed clearly the inference that it drew from its finding.

69 Ct.Cls. 485, 39 F.2d 998, affirmed.

Certiorari, 282 U.S. 822, to review a judgment recovered in the Court of Claims on a claim for repayment of an estate tax.

Page 283 U. S. 104

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