Fiduciary Administration-Power of Court to Authorize Inter Vivos Distribution from Incompetent’s Estate

The guardians of an eighty-six-year-old incompetent multi-millionaire petitioned for authorization to give a portion of the ward’s assets to his children and grandchildren. It was not suggested that the proposed beneficiaries were currently in need of funds, but rather the sole purpose of the inter vivas distribution was to minimize the impact of federal estate taxes on the ward’s estate at his death. It was alleged and proved, however, that the proposed distribution would follow a plan which accorded substantially with the terms of the ward’s will, and which the ward presumably would have followed himself, had he remained competent to manage his own affairs. On petition to the Delaware Chancery Court, held, authorization granted. An incompetent’s guardian may be authorized to distribute assets of the estate while the ward is still alive in order to effect substantial federal estate tax savings, so long as it is proved that the ward probably would have done the same thing had he remained competent.In re duPont, 194 A.2d 309 (Del. Ch. 1963).