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Stegeman v. Smith

FEBRUARY 21, 1966.

LOLA STEGEMAN, CHARLOTTE BECKS AND MARJORIE HOWELL, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES-CROSS APPELLANTS,

v.

ISABEL SMITH AND JOHN T. REARDON, EXECUTOR OF THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF L.R. SMITH, DECEASED, DEFENDANTS. ISABEL SMITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT-CROSS APPELLEE, AND JOHN T. REARDON, EXECUTOR OF THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF L.R. SMITH, DECEASED, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE-CROSS APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Adams County; the Hon. MAURICE E. BARNES, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded with directions to enter a decree in accordance with directions herein.

CRAVEN, J.

The plaintiffs, Charlotte Becks, Lola Stegeman and Marjorie Howell, are the children, by a former marriage, of one L.R. Smith who died testate on April 22, 1954, while married to the defendant, Isabel Smith. The suit was for partition and other equitable relief in respect to a tract of ground in Quincy, Illinois, having a frontage on Spring Street of 78 feet and a depth of 170 feet.

The decedent was the sole owner of a portion of the tract having a 60-foot frontage (referred to in the evidence as tract one). The decedent and his wife, Isabel Smith, the defendant, acquired the adjacent portion, having an 18-foot frontage (referred to in the evidence as tract two), by warranty deed dated September 29, 1949, as joint tenants and not as tenants in common.

In 1950 and 1951, a residence having a 68-foot frontage was built on the tract, approximately 55 feet of the residence being built on tract one and 13 feet on tract two. Decedent and his wife occupied the residence as a home until his death.

L.R. Smith's will, which is dated December 3, 1952, is as follows:

"This written statement is to instruct my attorney Mr. John T. Reardon how I would want my estate divided in case of my death. He shall have the power to serve as administrator with giving surity [sic] bond and is to be paid a reasonable fee. Now here is the way I would want my estate handled. I would want it all converted to cash as soon as it could be done in a sound business way, which consists of my automobile business which can be sold to a good advantage on present market also my home located at 2012 Spring St. Quincy, Ills. which cost me $47,500 after this is done here are my requests. First that at least $1000 for my burial exp and am to be placed beside my former wife Dora Smith as near like she was put away as possible.

"$300.00 to the First Christian Church at 14th Maine to be used for church maintance [sic].

"$4,000.00 to each and every one of my grandchildren to be put in trust until they reach their 18th Birthday and then is to be paid to them.

"$500.00 to Marie Smith, a sister, $500.00 to Lillie Reeder, no relation. $300.00 to Carson Smith, a brother to be used as burial expense for him only.

"$500.00 to Glenna Grover for her faithful duties to the L.R. Smith Motor Co.

"$200.00 to Eleanor Willer for her faithful service in taking care of my home.

"My insurance is made to my three daughters. The remainder of the estate is to be divided in equal shares between Charlotte Becks, Lola Stegeman, Marjorie Howell, Isabel Smith, my wife and daughters. [Crossed out portion.] Each daughter is to pay their bills now owing to the company from their share of the estate then that shall be divided in four equal shares to the wife and three daughters [crossed out portion]. Jack, I know you will see that this is done, Glenna can give you all the information about the business. Oh, yes there are about $3000.00 in Government [sic] Bonds in Safety Box at Ill. National Bank."

Isabel Smith, defendant, widow of L.R. Smith, renounced the will and elected to take her statutory share July 22, 1954, and has continued in ...


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