Susan W. BEDYK, Appellant,
BANK OF DELAWARE, formerly Equitable Security Trust Company, a corporation of the State of Delaware, Appellee. Ruth M. NIELSEN, Appellant,
BANK OF DELAWARE, formerly Equitable Security Trust Company, a corporation of the State of Delaware, Appellee.
Clement Wood, of Allmond & Wood, Wilmington, for appellant Susan W. Bedyk.
H. James Conaway, Jr., and Richard H. May, of Morford, Young & Conaway, Wilmington, for appellant Ruth M. Nielsen.
Victor F. Battaglia, of Theisen & Lank, Wilmington, amicus curiae, opposed.
Howard L. Williams and George C. Hering, III, of Morris, James, Hitchens & Williams, Wilmington, for appellee Bank of Delaware, formerly Equitable Security Trust Co.
SOUTHERLAND, C. J., WOLCOTT, Justice, and TERRY, Judge, sitting.
SOUTHERLAND, Chief Justice.
This case concerns the construction of the will of Daniel E. Wilson, who died December 7, 1934. Paragraph 2 of the will devises outright to his friend, Janet Miller, a house and lot on Jefferson Street in the City of Wilmington. Paragraph 3 bequeaths to Janet Miller $10,000 in cash. Paragraph 6 leaves his residuary estate in trust to pay the net income to Janet Miller for life.
Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the will provide:
'Seventh:--Upon the death of the said Janet Miller, the then principal amount in this trust shall be divided equally among the following relatives of mine who are at that time alive: my nephew, Harry Wilson of North East, Maryland, my brother, Samuel D. Wilson of Wilmington, Delaware, my sister, Leoti Merritt of Warwick, Maryland, my sister Ella Aiken of Warwick, Maryland, and my sister Mary Lynch of Elkton, Maryland.
'In the event any of the above beneficiaries contest this my last Will and Testament, I hereby revoke any bequest I have made herein to such person or persons so contesting and it is my will that such contestant receive none of my estate.
[40 Del.Ch. 142] 'Eighth:--In the event that all of the distributive provisions of this will fail, then I direct that my estate be distributed as is provided for in the laws of Delaware for intestate estates.'
The beneficiaries named in Paragraph 7 were the testator's next of kin. None of them survived the life tenant. Samuel D. Wilson, the last surviving contingent remainderman, died in 1957. The life tenant died October 6, 1959.
Upon her death it became necessary to ascertain what persons take the estate under the provisions of Paragraph 8. The following facts are pertinent:
One of the four contingent remaindermen, Harry Wilson, bequeathed all of his estate to his wife. Appellant Susan W. Bedyk is his daughter.
Another of the remaindermen, Leoti Merritt, died intestate, leaving three children. One of them, Richard Merritt, died testate leaving five children, one of whom is appellant Ruth M. Nielsen. Under the will she was not a beneficiary of his residuary estate.
No will appears in any of the other three ...