DAVID KRONEMYER: In the late 1970s I was promoting concerts, managing bands and working with schizophrenic patients in San Diego. Somehow, for a reason I don’t know, I ended up being a beneficiary of an old gentleman’s will. The actual language of the bequest went something like this: “To A if he is alive at the time of my death, however, if A is deceased, then to (me).” This is what is known as a “future interest.” According to a leading text, “a future interest in property is a present interest; it is not an interest which arises in the future.” In other words it actually exists, it just doesn’t happen to be possessory at the current time. I had what is known as a “contingent remainder,” the contingency being the prior death of “A.”
There was a big legal action if whether the person who was “A” had unduly influenced the old gentleman who wrote the will to include him in his estate. To settle that lawsuit the person who was “A” renounced his interest. The lawyer who represented the plaintiffs was Gerald L. McMahon of the firm then known as Seltzer Caplan Wilkins & McMahon. Evidently Mr. McMahon was asleep or absent during the class in law school about future interests. McMahon thought he had gotten rid of the entire problem. But he had forgotten about my contingent remainder. Nobody contended I had unduly influenced the decedent, so I was the next beneficiary in line to receive the estate.
This created all kinds of wild rumpus. The situation was complicated further by the fact the old gentleman had left some kind of a trust (another way to dispose of property on one’s death) in Pennsylvania. I found a 1938 U.S. Supreme Court case called Princess Lida of Thurn and Taxis v. Thompson, 305 U.S. 456, which held the Pennsylvania Court had exclusive jurisdiction over the estate. I actually got the Pennsylvania Court to issue an injunction against the San Diego court from proceeding forward with the case. This was unheard of and because it was so unbelievable and precedent-setting I post a copy of the Pennsylvania Court’s order below. The idea of being able to rely on an ancient lawsuit brought by a person named “Princess Lida of Thurn and Taxis” amused me to no end. It was as if it came out of Star Wars and made me feel – well, baronial, or an analogous emotion.
Needless to say this resulted in a perfect of alignment of interests for me to settle the case, too.