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The People v. Northern Trust Co.

OPINION FILED MAY 24, 1954

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

THE NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the County Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDMUND K. JARECKI, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE FULTON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 14, 1954.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the county court of Cook County, affirming an order of the county judge, which fixed the inheritance tax due upon a legacy to Richard A. Rice, a nephew of May Rice Jenkins, deceased, and alleged by Rice to stand in the acknowledged relation of a parent within the contemplation of section 1 of the Illinois Inheritance Tax Act as it stood in 1949. The appeal comes directly to this court because the public revenue is involved.

The primary question in the case, under the admitted facts as stated in the record, is whether Richard A. Rice is shown by the evidence to be a person to whom the deceased, May Rice Jenkins, stood in the acknowledged relation of a parent under the proper construction of said statute.

The county judge answered the question in the affirmative and assessed Richard A. Rice's tax at the sum of $21,026.66. On appeal to the county court this assessment was confirmed.

Under this appeal it is the contention of the Attorney General that Rice's accession under the will should have been taxed to him as decedent's nephew and not as her acknowledged child. If his contention is correct, the tax to be imposed upon Rice would be $49,162.67 instead of $21,026.66.

The testimony in the record and the stipulation of facts show that the decedent, May Rice Jenkins, died on December 13, 1950. She had been married only once and her only child, a son, died in infancy. Under the terms of her will, she bequeathed to a nephew, Richard A. Rice, a life estate in a trust with the Northern Trust Company, estimated at the value of $81,650.87; and the residue of her estate amounting to $267,136.85 which, together with other property, made the total value of the estate left to Richard Rice, $359,088.62.

Richard A. Rice, the legatee, was born December 8, 1912. He and his mother lived in Tucson, Arizona, until 1922, after the death of Richard's father in 1917, and then moved to Los Angeles, California. After the death of his father and until his marriage in 1933, Richard was supported mainly by the income from a trust fund left by his father and by his mother. By the time Richard became twenty-one, the income from the trust fund was greatly diminished. Richard's father was a brother of the decedent, Mrs. Jenkins.

Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins visited Richard and his mother in December, 1917, and remained six weeks to help handle the Rice estate. Richard's father left about $200,000 in trust to be divided between his widow and Richard. Originally the trust estate netted Richard about $300 a month.

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Jenkins's only blood relatives were her nephew, Richard, and three first cousins.

In 1918, while Richard was five years of age, he and his mother visited the Jenkinses in Chicago and various summer resorts for about three months. Two years later he and his mother again visited the Jenkinses for about two months. Two years later Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins visited Richard and his mother in Los Angeles for about the same period of time. Similar visits were made in 1924 and 1926. Richard's mother married one Patrick O'Rilley in 1919, and this marriage ended in divorce in 1924.

Richard testified that during the aforesaid visits Mrs. Jenkins stated that she loved him and regarded him as her son; that she wanted him to come and live with her and that she wanted to adopt him. He further testified that during the period when he was five to thirteen years old, Mrs. Jenkins always gave him a Christmas present of $100 and a birthday present of $50; that she bought him clothes, two bicycles and other articles. In 1928, when Richard was fifteen years old, Mrs. Jenkins visited for six weeks in the O'Rilley home at Los Angeles. He testified that on these visits, his aunt took full charge of his care, supervised his personal habits and the clothes he was to wear; further that his aunt talked to him about the schools he should attend and on his fourteenth birthday bought him a Chevrolet automobile, and when that was demolished in an accident, gave him money to buy another.

When Richard was fifteen years old, his aunt visited him in Los Angeles for about six weeks. The following year he became ill with pneumonia and Mrs. Jenkins came to Los Angeles and took him to Honolulu to recuperate for six weeks. Again in the summer of 1930, Mrs. Jenkins spent six weeks in Los Angeles and, in the summer of 1933, Richard was the guest of his aunt in Chicago, visiting the World's Fair. When he returned to Los Angeles in the fall of that year he was married. He and his bride then returned to Chicago where he lived in the Jenkins home and attended aeronautical school and night school at Mrs. Jenkins's expense. In the fall of 1934, Richard and his wife returned to Los Angeles so that he might complete his high school course at Mrs. Jenkins's expense. At that time he lived with his mother in Los Angeles, which was his home prior to 1933.

In 1935 Richard and his bride returned to Chicago and he was given employment by Mr. Jenkins in his real-estate business. Richard and his ...


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