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Baker v. Bates

OCTOBER 25, 1966.

EVA S. BAKER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THOMAS ARTHUR BATES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Monroe County; the Hon. ALVIN H. MAEYS, JR., Judge, presiding. Judgment adverse to plaintiff affirmed.

EBERSPACHER, J.

This is an appeal from the decree of the Circuit Court of Monroe County, construing the will of Charlie Murphy, deceased.

Charlie Murphy, a resident of Missouri, died testate in 1920. His last will and testament published March 9, 1920, and a codicil thereto published April 9, 1920, were probated in the State of Missouri and ancillary administration was had in Monroe County, Illinois. Both administrations were completed many years ago.

There is no dispute between the parties as to the facts, the controversy here involves a proper interpretation of Item VII of his last will and testament which provides as follows:

"I give, devise and bequeath to my wife, Minnie W. Murphy, to be held and enjoyed by her for and during the term of her natural life, all of my real estate situated, located and being in the State of Illinois, and I hereby give, devise and bequeath all of said real estate situated, located and being in the State of Illinois, to my said sisters, Minnie Taunt, Grace Light and Pearl Kunz, and my brother, Paul Murphy, subject to the life estate given and devised to my said wife, as above stated, the same to pass to them after the expiration of said life estate, share and share alike. And in the event that any of my said sisters and brother shall die before the expiration of said life estate, leaving no children surviving them, then, and in that event, the share of such as shall be not living upon such expiration, shall pass to and vest in the survivors of my said sisters, Minnie Taunt, Grace Light and Pearl Kunz, and my brother, Paul Murphy, share and share alike. In the event any of my said sisters, Minnie Taunt, Grace Light and Pearl Kunz, and my brother, Paul Murphy, be not living at the date of the termination of said life estate, and shall have left children surviving them, then such children shall be and become vested with the interest or share therein of their respective parents."

At the time of Charlie Murphy's death, he left surviving him his widow, Minnie W. Murphy, and Paul Murphy, Pearl Kunz, Grace Light, and Minnie Taunt, his brother and sisters, as his only heirs at law.

Paul Murphy, mentioned in the will, died in the year 1933, leaving him surviving as his only heirs, his daughters, plaintiffs Paula Killgo and Patricia Helen Murphy.

Minnie Taunt, mentioned therein, died in the year 1935, leaving her surviving as her only heirs at law, plaintiff Eva S. Baker, her daughter, and Thomas Eugene Bates, her son. Thomas Eugene Bates died in 1948, leaving him surviving as his only heirs, defendant Vera Bates, now Vera Raines, his widow, and defendants Thomas Arthur Bates and Patricia Ann Bates, his children.

Pearl Kunz, mentioned therein, died in the year 1947, leaving plaintiff Charles M. Kunz as her only heir.

Grace Light, mentioned therein, died in the year 1951 leaving no children surviving.

Minnie W. Murphy, the life tenant and widow of testator, Charlie Murphy, died on May 26, 1964.

We are here concerned with the last sentence of Item VII of testator's will:

"In the event any of my said sisters, Minnie Taunt, Grace Light and Pearl Kunz, and my brother, Paul Murphy, be not living at the date of the termination of said life estate, and shall have left children surviving them, then such children shall be and become vested with the interest or share therein of their respective parents."

Minnie Taunt died in 1935 and left Eva S. Baker, her daughter and Thomas Eugene Bates, her son. Thomas Eugene Bates died in 1948 prior to the death of Minnie W. Murphy, the life tenant. Thomas Eugene Bates left him surviving his widow, Vera Bates, now Vera Raines, and two children, Thomas Arthur Bates and Patricia Bates. The question presented is whether or not Eva S. Baker takes a 1/3 interest in the real estate or does she take a 1/6 interest and the widow and children of Thomas Eugene Bates each take a 1/18 interest. The trial court ...


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