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Drewen v. Bank of Manhattan Co.

New Jersey Supreme Court
155 A.2d 529 (1959)


Facts

Doris Ryer Nixon and Stanhope Wood Nixon entered into an agreement as part of their divorce. Under the agreement, Mr. Nixon agreed never to reduce the quantity or quality of their two children’s interests in his estate, as set forth in the will that he executed at the same time as the agreement. Under that will, each child would receive a portion of his estate in fee. After Mrs. Nixon’s death, Mr. Nixon executed a new will, which changed the gifts to his children to life estates. The new will also contained an in terrorem clause, under which a beneficiary could not object to any bequest without voiding the bequest. Lewis Nixon was the sole surviving child at the time of Mr. Nixon’s death. Lewis did not object to his bequest under the new will. John Drewen (plaintiff), the administrator of Mrs. Nixon’s estate, brought an action against the Bank of Manhattan Co. (the bank) (defendant), the executor and trustee under Mr. Nixon’s will, seeking to enforce the agreement between Mr. and Mrs. Nixon and reform Mr. Nixon’s new will accordingly. The chancery division dismissed the action, finding that Mrs. Nixon’s estate lacked standing because it would not benefit from bringing the action. The appellate division affirmed, and Drewen appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Proctor, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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