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Valley National Bank of Phoenix v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co.

Supreme Court of Arizona

April 12, 1943

VALLEY NATIONAL BANK OF PHOENIX, a National Banking Association, and VALLEY NATIONAL BANK OF PHOENIX, a National Banking Association, as Trustee Under the Last Will and Testament of George W. P. Hunt, Deceased, Appellants,
v.
HARTFORD ACCIDENT & INDEMNITY COMPANY, a Corporation, Appellee

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Arthur T. LaPrade, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Messrs. Baker & Whitney and Mr. Harold E. Whitney, for Appellants.

Messrs. Conner & Jones, for Appellee.

OPINION

STANFORD, J.

This action was brought for premiums on a trustee's bond and is, therefore, on the face of the action, merely an action for debt, but primarily [60 Ariz. 287] the action was brought to challenge the legality of an order of the probate court.

Our late Governor George W. P. Hunt provided in his will in respect to the amount of bond to be given by the trustee of his estate, that a bond "equal to 110% of my trust estate, excluding therefrom the value of my house on East McDowell Street," be given.

George W. P. Hunt passed away December 24, 1934, and his will was admitted to probate in January, 1935, in Maricopa County, Arizona. The will gave, devised and bequeathed all of the property of the testator, after payment of debts and funeral expenses, to the Valley Bank and Trust Company, predecessor of the appellant herein, as trustee. One-half of said estate was to be held in trust for the benefit of his daughter, Virginia Hunt Brannan, until January 1, 1945, the income therefrom to be paid to his said daughter.

Page 459

The other one-half of the trust estate to be held for the benefit of any child, or children, of Virginia Hunt Brannan, in equal shares until such child, or children, should reach the age of thirty years.

At the time of the institution of this action there had been born to Virginia Hunt Brannan two children, Carlton Hunt Brannan, born April 12, 1931, and Helen Duett Brannan, born September 19, 1936.

On June 2, 1936, a decree of distribution of said estate was entered in the probate proceedings therein, distributing the same to the Valley National Bank, successor to the Valley Bank and Trust Company, as trustee, and the court therein fixed the bond of the trustee at $168,000 in keeping with the request of the testator of the will.

The trustee thereupon requested the Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company, the appellee herein, to write the bond. The annual premium on said bond was $732, and the appellants paid to this appellee two of such premiums, and this action is brought for the [60 Ariz. 288] premiums for a period of three years, or a total sum of $2,196 and interest.

The bond herein was dated and approved the 26th day of September, 1936, and on the 29th day of September, 1938, on petition of appellants herein, was reduced to the sum of $1,000. The reduction was apparently based on the fact that the Valley National Bank had become a national banking association and operated pursuant to the National Bank Act, 11 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq., and was also for the best interest of the estate. That said order of the court also exonerated the bond first given by the appellee for $168,000.

The appellee thereafter on the 5th day of October, 1938, wrote the bond for the trustee in the sum of $1,000, but at all times claimed that the original bond was still in full force and effect and could not be cancelled by the Superior Court sitting in probate. The appellant herein, when demands for premiums were made, refused the payment of same, and in an action prior to the one in this cause, commenced a proceeding in the Superior Court of Maricopa County entitled Valley National Bank, a National Banking Association, as Trustee of the Estate of George W. P. Hunt et al. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company, a Corporation, et al., for a declaratory judgment to have certain features of the will ...


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