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Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. v. Slater

Decided: January 29, 1962.

MERCANTILE-SAFE DEPOSIT AND TRUST COMPANY, TRUSTEE
v.
SLATER, RECEIVER ET AL.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Baltimore City; Mason, J.

Hammond, Prescott, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ. Horney, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Horney

The question presented is whether the estate to which an incompetent residing in Great Britain is entitled as a remainderman under certain testamentary trusts presently administered in an equity court of this State, may be transferred to a receiver who had properly qualified as such under the laws of that country.

Samuel Magill Bryan and Melissa Anne Shipley Bryan had a daughter, Helen Gertrude Bryan, who was twice married, and, as Helen Gertrude White Young, died on February 10, 1959, leaving surviving her three children: a daughter, Dorothy White Clowe, a son, Bryan M. Young, and another son, John Sinclair Young, who is presently an incompetent.

Under the provisions of the respective last wills and testaments of her father and mother, the trusts created for the benefit of the daughter terminated at her death, and the corpus of the trusts as well as the undistributed income devolved upon her children in equal parts. The respective shares of Dorothy White Clowe and Bryan M. Young have been distributed and paid to them, but the share of John Sinclair Young is still in the hands of the trustee pending the decision in this case.

John Sinclair Young, who is of full legal age, has been for more than two years and still is a patient in Winwick Hospital, a mental institution at Winwick, Warrington, England, and the prognosis is that he will continue as a patient for an indefinite period.

Upon the application of the half-sister of the patient, the Court of Protection at London, in a proceeding therein entitled "In the Matter of John Sinclair Young, 1959 No. 2829," on February 17, 1960, appointed Philip Slater as the receiver of the estate of the patient and required of him an appropriate fidelity bond.

Among other things, the order appointing the receiver authorized him to take such steps as might be necessary to procure a transfer into the name of the patient, or the receiver as nominee, of the investments comprising the distributive share to which the patient is entitled under the respective wills of his grandfather and grandmother, and to dispose of

such other investments as are not transferable and to collect and transmit the proceeds thereof to England, together with such cash balance belonging to the patient as may remain in the hands of the trustee.

There is no dispute as to the facts. Nor is it controverted that the share remaining in the hands of the trustee belongs to the incompetent remainderman beneficiary.

Since a state, or nation, has the exclusive right to regulate matters pertaining to ownership of property within its territorial limits, it may prescribe not only the procedures by which title may be acquired, retained and transferred, but also what persons shall be permitted to enjoy the privileges of ownership. 1 Hyde, International Law, ยง 203 (2nd rev. ed. 1945). See also Mager v. Grima, 49 U.S. (8 How.) 490 (1850). Ordinarily, however, most sovereign states do not unreasonably prohibit aliens, even those who reside outside of its domain, from acquiring, retaining and transferring property located within its territory. To that end numerous treaties between this country and other sovereign nations provide for the enjoyment of these privileges by such persons. There is such a treaty between the United States and Great Britain. In 1 Malloy, Treaties,*fn1 pp. 774-775, Art. II of the treaty provides that:

"The citizens or subjects of each of the Contracting Parties shall have full power to dispose of their personal property within the territories of the other, by testament, donation, or otherwise; and their heirs, legatees, and donees, * * * whether resident or nonresident, shall succeed to their said personal property, and may take possession thereof either ...


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