Ante, vol. vii. p. 340.
Subject_Heir of entail — Relief — Annuity — Real burden — Drainage.
In an entail of one of his estates a party bound himself and his heirs and executors to relieve the lands of his debts and obligations. Subsequently, in an antenuptial contract of marriage he burdened the entailed estate with an annuity to his widow. Held (reversing judgment of the First Division) that the heir of entail was entitled, out of the general estate, to relief of this annuity.
This was an appeal from a decision of the First Division on a special case. The question was whether the respondents, the trustees and executors nominate of the late James Mackintosh of Lamanclia, in the county of Peebles, were bound to relieve the appellant, who was the eldest son and heir of entail under a deed of entail executed by his father, of two annuities of £150 and £70 respectively, which were settled by the late Mr Mackintosh upon his third wife, now his widow. These annuities had been provided by an antenuptial contract of marriage, executed after the deed of entail, and were made burthens on the estate of Lamancha. The deed of entail contained this clause:—“I oblige myself and my heirs, executors, and representatives whomsoever to free and relieve my lands of Lamancha of all my debts and obligations.” The contract of marriage reserved power to the testator's heirs, executors, and representatives whomsoever to relieve the lands of Lamancha of the annuities by purchasing annuities from an Insurance Company to the satisfaction of the widow which she was taken bound to accept as in lieu of the security over the estate. The appellant had contended that under the terms of the two deeds the executors were bound to relieve the heir of entail of these annuities, as they were debts and obligations within the meaning of the clause in the
deed of the entail. The First Division unanimously held that the entailer did not intend these annuities to be considered as debts to be paid out of the general estate, they were expressly made burthens on the entailed estate. The heir of entail appealed.
That judgment was rested mainly on two grounds—1st, That by the law of Scotland, as a rule, a liferent annuity, or a debt secured on heritable estate, is to be borne by the heir succeeding to the heritage in the case of intestate succession; and that the same rule holds in the ease of testate succession, unless a contrary intention is made to appear. 2d, That the clause in the entail on which the heir founds cannot in the circumstances be understood as applying to the particular annuities in question. The first of these propositions is admitted, but the appellant contends that a contrary intention is made to appear. The second proposition is disputed.
The late James Mackintosh, of Lamancha. left three deeds, which are referred to in the Special Case, viz.:—1st, Deed of entail of the estate of Lamancha, dated in 1857; 2d, Last will and settlement, dated in 1865; 3d, Contract of marriage with his third wife, dated in 1867.
The first of these deeds contains the clause on which the heir of entail mainly founds, and which is thus expressed:—“I oblige myself, my heirs, executors, and representatives whatsoever, to free and relieve my lands before disponed of all my debts and obligations.” The second of the said deeds conveyed his whole estates, heritable and moveable, other than the estate of Lamancha, to certain trustees, and directed them to pay “the whole debts which may be due by me at the period of my death,” and also to pay certain legacies and bequests, and to divide the residue into six shares, to be distributed in certain proportions among his four children, all of whom were by his first wife. It also contained a clause revoking “all wills and settlements executed by me at any time heretofore, excepting a disposition and deed of entail of my lands and estate of Lamancha, which shall stand and subsist in full force and effect.”
The third of the said deeds made certain provisions in favour of his third wife, including the two annuities of £150 and £70 now in question, and for “her further security and more sure payment” of the said annuities he bound and obliged himself to infeft her in the estate of Lamancha. This deed also contains the following clause, on which the heir of entail founds:—“But declaring that it shall be in the option and power of the said James Mackintosh, and his heirs, executors, and successors, to secure the said annuity of £150 and yearly sum of £70 to the said Mary Ann Burn by purchasing at his and their own expense from any respectable insurance company, to be selected and approved of by her, an annuity payable to the said Mary Ann Burn in the terms before provided, equal in amount to the said annuity of £150 and yearly sum of £70 hereinbefore provided to her; and upon the purchase being effected and completed to her satisfaction, and the writs securing the same being delivered to her, she binds herself and the trustees after named, but at the expense of the said James Mackintosh ‘and his foresaids, to discharge and disburden the several subjects and others before mentioned and described of the said provision secured over them as aforesaid.”
In January 1867 Mrs Mackintosh was infeft in the estate of Lamancha on the contract of marriage. In February 1869 Mr Mackintosh died without having exercised the said option.
It appears from the Special Case that the rental of the entailed estate was about £700 per annum, and that the public, parochial, and other burdens payable by the proprietor amounted to £100 per annum. It also appears that the general trust-estate comprehended a house in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, heritable and personal estate in Calcutta of considerable amount, and personal estate in Britain exceeding £27,000; and that the two-sixths of his estate falling to the share of each of his daughters will be “more than £10,000, and less than £20,000.”
The heir of entail now claims to be relieved of the annuities by the general trust-estate. I am of opinion that he is entitled to be so relieved.
The clause in the entail was certainly intended to impose an obligation somewhere to free and relieve the estate of Lamancha of all Mr Mackintosh's debts and obligations, and I have no doubt that it was meant to extend to future debts and obligations. The words are quite general, and the judges in the Court below appear not to have attached importance to the circumstance that the obligation in question was contracted at a date subsequent to the entail. Indeed it does not appear, and is not alleged, that at the date of the entail there existed any debt or obligation, and if there was none the clause must have been intended to apply to future debts and obligations. The purpose of it appears to have been that the estate of Lamancha should be launched under the entail free from debt; and the conception of the clause appears to have been, not with the view of effect being given to the ordinary rule of law as between heir and executor, but with the view of making a special arrangement because of the entail. The ordinary rule of law as between heir and executor in regard to the incidence of debt is founded on the presumption that the heritage is capable of bearing all the burdens incident to it. The heir who succeeds to it, if he is not fettered, can deal with it as he pleases, and turn it to the best account for his own relief. But if he is only to be put into possession under the fetters of an entail, his condition will be materially different, and if the entailer intends that the estate he is entailing should be started free from debt, it is quite reasonable that he should make provision for doing so out of his other means, and the more so if his other means are ample, as in this case they are said to be.
The obligation to free and relieve Lamancha was imposed by the entailer on himself, his heirs, executors, and representatives whatsoever. That appears to have been with him a primary or leading object. If he had himself redeemed the obligation he must have done so out of his general
It appears to me that this view is supported by the terms of the trust-settlement. It is true that in the general case a direction to trustees in a mortis causa trust-deed to pay the debts of the deceased does not of itself imply any deviation from the general rule of law as to the incidence of heritable and moveable debts. But an expressed intention to start an incipient entail, or to add other lands to an existing entail, introduces another element, and gives rise to other considerations, leading to the inference that the testator intended the lands so dealt with to be cleared of debt, even if there was no express declaration to that effect, as the continued existence of debt on these lands might result in defeating the object of the entail.
Here there is the declaration, or rather the obligation, of the testator himself in the deed of entail, which is referred to in the trust-deed as forming part of his settlement, and he directs his trustees to pay all his debts,, to record the entail, and to put the heir into possession of Lamancha under and in virtue of the deed of entail.
Taking these two deeds together, I do not doubt that Mr Mackintosh's intention was that the estate of Lamancha should be freed and relieved out of his general estate, unless there are special grounds for holding that the particular annuities in question are not within the range of the debts and obligations to which the clause in the entail has reference.
Up to the time when the trust-settlement was executed, there did not, so far as we see, exist any debt that would have affected Lamancha according to the ordinary rule of law as between heir and executor. But then came the marriage-contract, by which a security over Lamancha was given to the lady for the annuities in question, and by the same deed Mr Mackintosh reserved to himself, his heirs, executors, and successors the option and power to purchase for the lady from any respectable insurance company, to be approved of by her, an annuity equal to those in question, and she bound herself thereupon to discharge the security over Lamancha, and disburden that estate thereof.
Upon this deed several observations have been made. First, it has been observed that the burden it imposed was subsequent to the date of the entail. I have already shown that this circumstance is immaterial and may be dismissed. Secondly, an observation to which some importance appears to have been attached in the Court below was, that as Mr Mackintosh was wealthy and could have provided for his widow otherwise, it is difficult to understand why he should have imposed the burden on the entailed estate if he intended it to be borne by his general estate. I am not much moved by that observation. It may be that Mr Mackintosh could have provided for his widow by placing funds in the hands of trustees for that purpose, or by coming under obligation to do so, or to provide her with a jointure. But we do not know how his funds were employed at that time. He may not have been disposed to disturb his investments, or to lock up funds in the hands of trustees. The lady or her advisers may have preferred immediate substantial security over Lamancha to an obligation de futuro to be implemented out of floating capital. Thirdly, it was contended, and that appears to have been the main ground of judgment in the Court below, that the annuities secured over Lamancha are not a debt, or at least are not a debt in the sense of the clause in the entail; that they are not a capital sum due which might be at once paid off, but are a continuous security over the rents for the termly annuities as they fall due, and similar to the right which the present or future heirs of entail would have to make provision for their widows under the Aberdeen Act, or under the powers given by the entail, which are similar to those of the Aberdeen Act. I am not satisfied with that view. The clause of relief in the entail applies to “all my debts and obligations.” I am of opinion that these annuities constitute a debt in the ordinary sense of the word. They are a debt in which the widow is the creditor, and the representatives of Mr Mackintosh are the debtors, and for payment of which the estate of Lamancha may be attached unless the relief sought be given. But whatever ingenious criticism may be made on the word “debts,” it is impossible to escape the generality of the word “obligations.” Neither can the obligation be assimilated to a provision under the Aberdeen Act. It does not profess to be anything of the kind. It has none of the requisite conditions or limitations as to amount or liability or mode of recovery. The only similarity is that it is a provision for a widow. Nor does the circumstance that it is an obligation for an annuity, and not for a capital sum, appear to me to raise any practical difficulty. The clause in the marriage-contract provided for and sufficiently meets any difficulty of that kind that might have been raised. It reserves the power to relieve the lands, and prescribes the mode. The only question is as to the incidence of the obligation, and I would here again observe that at the very moment of imposing the burden on Lamancha Mr Mackintosh had in contemplation the removal of it by himself or his representatives, and must have intended the relief to come, not out of Lamancha, but out of his other means—that is to say, out of the general estate. The respondents say that they cannot purchase an annuity, as no direct power to do so is conferred on them by the trust-deed. But if I am right in holding that the clause of relief in the entail was intended to attach to the general estate, it follows that the power reserved in the marriage-contract may be exercised by the respondent as the trustees of that estate. They also say that they have no interest in purchasing an annuity, which would be an expensive proceeding. The same observation would apply to the appellant. But if the obligation to relieve Lamancha has devolved on the general estate, the respondents must give the relief in the mode provided, unless they can find a less expensive and equally effectual mode of doing so.
For these reasons, I am of opinion that the interlocutor of the Court of Session, of date 2d March 1870, in so far as appealed from, should be reversed, and that judgment should be pronounced in terms of the third of the alternative forms set
Lord Advocate—I presume your Lordships have intentionally abstained from saying anything about costs.
Reversed and cause remitted.
Counsel for Appellant—Lord Advocate ( Young) and Mr Asher. Agents— T. & R. B. Ranken, W.S;, and Messrs Tatham & Proctor.
Counsel for Respondents— Dean of Faculty (Gordon) Q.C., and Mr Pearson, Q.C. Agents— Lindsay, Howe & Co. W.S., and Loch & Maclaurin, Westminster.