CHAPTER 143

SETTLEMENT OF PERSONAL ESTATES

AN ACT TO AMEND 3867. SEC. 69, CHAPTER 98, OF THE REVISED CODE OF DELAWARE OF 1935, RELATING TO DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATES OF DECEDENTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. That 3867. Sec. 69, Chapter 98, of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out said 3867. Sec. 69, and substituting in lieu thereof a new 3867. Sec. 69, reading as follows:

"3867. Sec. 69. Jurisdiction of Orphans Court; Distribution of Estates of Decedents; Procedure For; Notice; Hearing; Decree; Appeal:--The jurisdiction of the Orphans Court shall extend to and embrace the distribution of the assets and surplusage of the estates of decedents among the persons entitled thereto in all cases where such jurisdiction is invoked as hereinafter provided.

An executor or administrator or any person claiming to have an interest in the estate to be distributed may, at any time after any account has been filed by an executor or administrator, apply to the Orphans Court in the county in which letters testamentary or of administration were granted upon the estate to be distributed, by a written petition filed in said court by an attorney admitted and licensed to practice therein, for a decree of distribution of the estate among the persons entitled thereto. Such petition shall have attached to it a certified copy of all accounts that have been theretofore filed by the executor or administrator in the office of the Register of Wills for the said county; shall contain the names of all persons known to the petitioner who claim or may claim an interest in the estate to be distributed, together with their post office addresses so far as known; shall state whether the executor or administrator of the said estate has given the notice required to be given by Section 34 of Article IV of the Constitution of this State; and shall be duly verified. If at the time such petition is filed the executor or administrator of said estate shall not have given the notice required to be given by said Section 34 of Article IV of the said Constitution, the said Court shall forthwith order such notice to be given by such executor or administrator within such time as shall be fixed by the Court.

Upon the filing of such a petition, the Orphans Court, after having satisfied itself of the sufficiency of such petition, shall make an ORDER (1) taking jurisdiction of the proceeding; (2) setting the application for a decree of distribution down for a hearing before the said Court, at a time fixed in such order; (3) providing for personal service of a written notice upon, and delivery of a copy thereof to, each person residing in the State of Delaware who is named in said petition as a person who claims or may claim an interest in the estate to be distributed and each such person of whom the Court otherwise has knowledge, and also upon the personal representative of the decedent, if he is not the petitioner in said proceeding; (4) further providing for like notice by registered mail to each such claimant named in said petition, or of whom the Court otherwise has knowledge, who resides outside the State of Delaware; and (5) further providing for the posting of such notice in the County Court House in said County at least thirty days before the date of such hearing, and for the publication thereof in a newspaper published in said County, at least once a week for at least four weeks before the date of such hearing. The said notice shall be given, mailed, posted and published by and in the name of the Clerk of the Orphans Court of the County in which the proceeding is pending; shall be personally served, with delivery of copy as aforesaid, by the Sheriff of said County; and shall be in substantially the following form:

IN THE ORPHANS COURT

IN AND FOR COUNTY,

DELAWARE

TO ALL PERSONS CLAIMING TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF

DECEASED, INCLUDING PERSONS CLAIMING TO BE HEIRS, LEGATEES, BENEFICIARIES OR OTHER DISTRIBUTEES OF SAID ESTATE.

YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that an application has been made to the Orphans Court in and for County,

Delaware, for a decree of distribution of the estate of said decedent and that the said application has been set down for a hearing before the said Court on the day of

A. D. 19 , at o'clock in the forenoon, in the court

room of the said Court in the County Court House in the City of

, Delaware.

You are further notified that if you desire to make any claim to an interest in the distribution of the said estate, or to all or any part of the distributable amount of said estate, you must appear before the said Court at the time and place aforesaid and present such claim together with any evidence you desire to present to sustain such claim.

Your failure to appear and present your evidence at the time and place aforesaid will be at your peril.

Clerk of the Orphans Court in and for County, Delaware

At the hearing of said application or any adjournment thereof, the Court shall consider the sworn petition of the applicant and any sworn answer or answers that shall have been filed in the proceeding and shall take and receive any and all pertinent evidence that may be offered by the petitioner or by the personal representative of the decedent or by any person appearing and claiming to have an interest in the estate to be distributed. The evidence so

taken shall be recorded stenographically and, if required by the Court or if an appeal be taken from any decree of distribution that may be made on the application, shall be transcribed.

If, upon the said hearing, the Court shall be satisfied that the estate or any part thereof may then be distributed, the Court shall make a decree determining the distribution of the estate then available for distribution to the person or persons who are by law entitled to the same. If it appear that a portion of the estate may then be distributed and the balance of the estate should be reserved for contingent liabilities against the estate, such decree may, if the Court should deem proper, determine the distribution of such balance if and to the extent that the same may thereafter become available for distribution.

Whenever it shall appear in any such proceeding that the balance of the estate, after the payment of debts, includes stocks, bonds or other securities, which, for reasons satisfactory to the Court, have not been converted by the personal representative of the decedent, it shall be lawful for said Court to direct distribution of such assets in kind to and among those lawfully entitled thereto, including fiduciaries. Such distribution in kind shall specify what stocks, bonds or other securities shall be distributed to each distributee separately. Any fiduciary to whom such a distribution in kind has been made shall be authorized to accept the stocks, bonds or other securities so distributed, but, with respect to the retention thereof after such distribution, such fiduciary shall be governed by the general law applicable thereto.

The Orphans Court, instead of hearing in the first instance an application for a decree of distribution hereunder, may appoint a master to hear the same who shall thereafter proceed in accordance with the provisions of this 3867. Sec. 69, and thereupon shall make a report to the Orphans Court recommending the decree to be entered in the proceeding. Such report shall be subject to exceptions by the personal representative of the estate or any person claiming to have an interest therein and such exceptions shall be heard by the Orphans Court and thereafter a decree shall be entered ' by the court in the proceeding.

The Orphans Court shall have power to make all necessary rules of procedure before the master and other rules governing this proceeding not inconsistent with the provisions of this 3867. Sec. 69.

Every decree of distribution made by the Orphans Court in a proceeding initiated hereunder shall be a final decree, but the personal representative of the decedent or any person claiming to have an interest in the estate thereby decreed to be distributed shall have the right, at any time within two months after the making and entry of such decree, to take an appeal therefrom to the Superior Court. After the expiration of said period of two months such decree of distribution, with respect to all matters contained therein, if no appeal shall have been taken therefrom, shall become and be conclusive and binding upon the executor or administrator of the estate of the decedent and upon every person claiming to have an interest in the estate thereby distributed. If an appeal is taken from any such decree, the decree or judgment made and entered by the Superior Court on such appeal shall likewise be conclusive and binding upon such executor or administrator and every such person so claiming as aforesaid, from the date of the making and entry of such decree or judgment by such Superior Court, and no further appeal may be taken from such decree or judgment of such Superior Court.

Any such appeal taken to the Superior Court shall be heard by that Court upon the record of the proceeding in the Orphans Court and the procedure on such appeal shall otherwise be in accordance with such rules as shall be made by the Superior Court with respect thereto."

Section 2. That Chapter 184 of Volume 38 of the Laws of Delaware be and the same is hereby repealed.

Approved April 24, 1939.

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