Of the Settlement of Personal Estates.
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A COLLATERAL INHERITANCE AND SUCCESSION TAX.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:
Section I. All property within the jurisdiction of this State, real and personal, and every estate and interest therein, whether belonging to inhabitants of this State or not, which shall, after the approval of this Act, pass by will, or by the intestate laws of this State, or by deed, grant, or gift (except in cases of a bona fide purchase for full consideration in money or money's worth) made or intended to take effect in possession or enjoyment after the death of the grantor, or donor, to any person, or persons, bodies politic, or corporate, in trust or otherwise, other than to or for the use of the father, mother, grand-father, grand-mother, wife, husband, child, or children by birth or legal adoption, or lineal descendant. of the grantor, donor, devisor, or intestate (hereinafter called the decedent) shall be subject to taxation and pay the following taxes, that is to say where the successor shall be a brother or sister, or a descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent, a tax at the rate of one per cent upon the value thereof; where the successor shall be a brother or sister of the father or mother, or a descendant of a brother or sister of the father or mother of the decedent, a tax at the rate of two per centum upon the value thereof ; where the successor shall be a brother or sister of the grand-father or grandmother, or descendant of the brother or sister of the grand-father or grandmother of the decedent, a tax at the rate of three per centum upon the value thereof ; where the successor shall be in any other degree of collateral consanguinity to the decedent, than is hereinbefore described, or shall be a stranger in blood to him, a tax exceeding $500 at the rate of five per centum of the value thereof: provided that if the value of the property, estate or interest therein, passing as aforesaid to any successor, shall not exceed the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500), then and in such event the successor shall be entitled to receive the same, free and exempt from any tax imposed by the provisions of this Act ; and provided further that nothing in this Act shall be construed to impose any tax upon any property, estate or interest therein passing to or for the use, or in trust for, charitable, educational or religious societies or institutions, or cities or towns for public improvement, or to school districts or library commissions.
Section 2. Every pecuniary legacy and every distributive share of an estate payable in this State, shall be subject to the tax prescribed in Section I of this Act, and every executor or administrator to whom administration may be granted, before he pays any pecuniary legacy, or distributes the shares of any estate liable to the tax imposed by the preceding section, shall pay to the Register of Wills of the proper county, for the use of the State, that per centum of all moneys he may hold for distribution among the distributees or legatees, as is prescribed in the preceding section. The tax aforesaid shall be paid by such executor or administrator within thirteen months from the granting months of letters testamentary, or of administration, and any executor or administrator neglecting or refusing to pay the said tax shall not be allowed by the Register any commissions on the estate, and shall be liable, on his official bond, for the amount of the tax due the State on the funds in his hands. The exemptions prescribed in Section I of this Act shall apply to all legacies and distributive shares of estate.
Section 3. The estate or interest of every person, body politic or corporate, in all real and personal property, taxable under the provisions of Section I of this Act, whether in remainder, reversion or otherwise, or in trust or otherwise, or conditioned upon the happening of a contingency or dependent upon the exercise of a discretion, or subject to a power of appointment, or otherwise, and all annuities taxable as aforesaid, shall be valued by the Register of Wills for the purpose of determining the amount of tax to be collected from such person, body politic, or corporate, under the provisions of this Act. Where the property shall pass in trust or otherwise to one or more persons, bodies politic or corporate, for a term of years or greater estate or interest, and with remainder or reversion to one or more other persons, bodies politic, or corporate, the estate or interest of each beneficiary shall be valued separately.
The Register of Wills referred to in this Section shall be the Register of Wills of the County where letters testamentary or of administration, have been granted on the estate of the donor, grantor, devisor or intestate from whom the property aforesaid shall have passed as set forth in Section i of this Act, but if no such letters have been granted then the said Register shall be the Register of Wills of the County in which such property is, or is situated. Such valuation shall be made within thirteen months of the death of the donor, grantor, devisor or intestate aforesaid.
The Register shall give one week's notice to the parties in interest by posting the same in his office or in some other manner as he shall deem proper, of the time when he will hear any of said parties relative to such valuation. The said Register shall have power to summon witnesses and take testimony relative to the valuation aforesaid.
In all cases there shall be an appeal from the determination of the Register as to the amount of taxes to be paid under the provisions of this Act, to the Orphans Court of the County of said Register; the said appeal must be taken to the term of the said Orphans Court next following the determination of the Register as to the valuation aforesaid. The decision of the said Orphans Court shall be final.
The costs of the appeal shall in all cases be paid by the appellant and shall be taxed by the Court against said appellant. It shall be the duty of the Register to notify the Attorney General or his Deputy for the County of said Register's jurisdiction, whenever any such appeal shall be taken and it shall be the duty of the Attorney-General to represent the State in person or by one of his deputies in the hearing on the appeal.
Every estate and interest in real and personal property shall be charged with a lien for the amount of the taxes for which such estate or interest is liable under the provisions of this Act, whether such estate or interest be held at the time the tax is determined, by the first taker thereof, his heirs, assigns or any other persons, and such a lien shall not be discharged until the tax shall be paid in full. It shall be the duty of the executor or administrator of the donor, grantor, devisor or intestate from whom any property shall pass as set forth, in Section I of this Act, to collect the taxes determined in accordance with the provisions of this Section, to be due and payable on account of said property or any estate or interest therein, from the parties liable to pay said tax, or their legal representative. Such collection shall be made within thirty days after the amount of the tax has been determined in accordance with the provisions of this section, provided that the right of possession or enjoyment of the property, estate or interest taxed, shall then have accrued, otherwise such collection shall be made within thirty days after such right of possession or enjoyment shall accrue. If there shall be no executor or administrator as aforesaid at such time, it shall be the duty of the Register of Wills to appoint some suitable person as administrator. If the owner of any estate or interest when subject to the payment of a tax under the provisions of this Act shall refuse or neglect to pay said tax to the executor or administrator aforesaid, within the time prescribed for the collection thereof as hereinbefore set forth, then the executor or administrator aforesaid shall apply to the Orphans Court of said County, and it shall be the duty of said Court to grant an order authorizing and directing said executor or administrator to sell for cash, upon the usual notice, the said estate or interest, or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay said tax and all expenses of such sale and the commissions of the executor or administrator thereon. The said order, with the proceedings of the executor or administrator therein, shall be returned to the next term of the said Orphans Court, and if the return aforesaid be approved order by the Court, the executor or administrator making such sale shall execute and deliver to the purchaser a deed for so much of said estate or interest as was sold, and such deed shall vest in the purchaser the title thereto.
Whenever any legacy taxable under the provisions of this Act, is charged upon land, the holder of said land shall pay the same to the executor or administrator in order that said executor or administrator may pay the taxes due thereon.
In case any property subject to the provisions of this Act shall be held in trust, it shall be the duty of the trustee to pay the taxes imposed under this Act, to the executor or administrator of the donor, grantor or devisor from whom the property shall have passed as set forth in Section I hereof, and if there shall be no such executor or administrator then said trustees shall pay the said taxes to the Register of Wills of the proper County. It shall be the duty of every executor or administrator within two months after the granting of letters testamentary or administration, to file in the office of the Register of Wills of the County in which such letters have been granted, a statement in writing, setting forth a general description of every parcel of real estate in this State of which his decedent died seized, and the name of each party entitled to any estate or interest in any parcel of said real estate and the relationship, if any, of said party, to the decedent. Said statement shall be supported by the oath or affirmation of said executor or administrator that the facts therein contained are true according to his best information and belief. Every such statement shall be recorded by the Register of Wills in a separate book to be kept by him for that purpose and which shall be known as the "Inheritance and Succession Docket," and shall be duly indexed. Whenever any parcel of real property or any estate or interest therein described in the statement of the executor or administrator aforesaid, shall be subject to tax under the provisions of this Act, the Register of Wills shall make an entry in the docket aforesaid, of the amount of the tax determined by him as hereinbefore set forth, to be against said parcel and every estate and interest therein, and in docket in the event of an appeal to the Orphans Court as aforesaid, shall further set down in said docket the amount of the tax aforesaid as fixed by said Court. When any tax as aforesaid shall be paid and discharged, the said Register shall make a note thereof in the said docket. It shall be the duty of the State Treasurer from time to time to examine every such docket as aforesaid, and to notify the Attorney General of any failure on the part of any Register of Wills or of any executor or administrator to perform the duties imposed upon them by this Act. The Attorney General shall thereupon take proper proceedings against the party or parties delinquent. All taxes imposed under the provisions of this Act shall be for the use of use of the State.
If for any cause there shall be no executor or administrator to receive a tax imposed under the provisions of this Act, executor or administrator the party liable for said tax shall have the right to pay the tax to be paid to same direct to the Register of Wills of the proper County and Register of such payment shall operate as a discharge of said tax.
Section 4. The bond of an executor or administrator shall be liable for all money he may receive for taxes; or for the proceeds of the sale of any estate or interest received by him name under this Act, and if any executor or administrator shall fail to perform any of the duties imposed upon him under the provisions of this Act, the Register of Wills granting the letters of administration may revoke the same, and his bond shall be liable, and the same proceedings shall be had as if his administration had been revoked for any other cause. The powers and duties of an administrator de bonis non, or de bonis non with the will annexed, shall be the same, under this Act, as an executor or administrator, and he shall be subject to the same liabilities.
Section 5. Every executor or administrator collecting the tax aforesaid by sale of any estate or interest as aforesaid, shall pay the tax so collected to the Register of Wills of the proper County.
Section 6. Every Register of Wills receiving any tax under the provisions of this Act, shall give the person paying the same, duplicate receipts therefor, one of which shall be forwarded by the person so paying as aforesaid, to the State Treasurer, to be by him preserved, and either of said duplicate receipts shall be evidence in suits upon the bond of said Register to recover the taxes so by him received.
Section 7. It shall be the duty of the several Register of Wills in the State, to make returns, under oath to the State Treasurer, on the first days of January, April, July and October, in each year, or within thirty days thereafter, of all sums of money received by them as taxes under the provisions of this Act, the first return to be made on the first day of July next after the passage of this Act, and to pay over to said State Treasurer the amounts so by them received respectively, at the time of making such returns, for which they shall be allowed a commission of one half of one per centum on the amount so paid over, and if any Register of Wills shall fail to pay over, as required by this Section, the State Treasurer Failure to shall give notice to the Attorney General of the State, whose duty it shall be to institute suit on the official bond of such Register of Wills, for the use of the State, to recover the amount due from such Register of Wills, and in such suit the amount appearing to be due, with interest thereon, and costs, shall be recovered, which recovery shall be evidence of misbehavior in office, and upon conviction thereof such Register of Wills shall be removed from office.
The official bond of every Register of Wills of this State, now or hereafter appointed, shall be deemed and held to embrace and include the faithful performance by such Register of all and every the duties imposed upon him by this Act.
Approved March 26, A. D. 1909.