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Astor Will Contest Not Contemplated

Counsel for Mrs. Astor, Denies Rumors of an Appeal to the Courts

New York Times

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$3,000,000 for New Baby Considered Ample, as Proper Investment Would Greatly Increase it

Former Justice Henry A. Gildersleeve, counsel for Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor, will come to New York to-morrow from his Summer home, at Maplewood, N. H., on business connected with the Astor estate, and he announced there yesterday that no contest of the Astor will was contemplated.

A guardian for the new Astor baby is to be appointed next week, and there can be no settlement of the estate until the guardian has been appointed and has appeared before the Surrogates' Court. Mr. Gildersleeve said yesterday that the provision of Col. John Jacob Astor's will as to the posthumous child was absolutely valid and the bequest ample for the child's needs.

Col. John Jacob Astor, who perished on the Titanic, made his will just before he married Miss Madeleine TaImage Force last fall. It provided for issue by his second wife, without regard to the sex of such offspring. Col. Astor directed that in the event that he should be survived by a child or children other than his son Vincent and his daughter Muriel, each child that survived him should be the beneficiary of a $3,000,000 trust fund until attaining majority.

The latest John Jacob Astor will, of course, have a much larger share of the estate when he attains his majority, for by wise management and investment it is estimated that the trust fund of $3,000,000 will amount to at least $8,000,000 by the time the boy reaches manhood and takes over the management of his affairs. The will directs James Roosevelt Roosevelt, brother-in-law of Col, Astor; Nicholas Biddle, and Douglas Robinson, trustees, to set aside a part of his realty or personalty for the creation of the $3,000,000 trust fund.

Even should the trustees elect to make up the trust fund entirely of personalty instead of following the Astor custom of making real estate investments, the trust fund should amount to more than three times the original sum set aside in twenty-one years. If made up of New York City real estate the fund may increase even to $30,000,000 by the end of that time.

The Astor baby is the fourth infant in the eyes of the law to share in the will of Col. Astor. His mother was a legal infant until June 19, when she became 21 years of age. Vincent Astor head of the family in this country, and his sister, are still infants in the eyes of the law. One provision of the Astor will which occasioned some surprise and speculation as to a possible attempt to break it was that which gave Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor $5,000,000 until death or remarriage. Surrogate Cohalan has expressed himself upon this phase of the will by declaring that a clause forbidding a young widow to remarry under penalty of losing a fortune might be construed as against public policy.

Under the probate law an infant may wait until its majority to attack its father's will as regards personal property, but a distribution of real property must be attacked immediately. The purpose of this law was made to make sales of real estate final and prevent the clouding of titles by law suits.

There was same speculation when Col.Astor's will was offered for probate whether or not the provision as to posthumous issue was effective. The general opinion of lawyers was that the provision was effective. They agreed, however, that in the event of the overthrow of the provision the rest of the will would stand.

There is now no question about the will unsettled, it is said, except possibly the division of motors, horses, and carriages between the widow and Vincent Astor, and that will be promptly adjusted.


Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2010) Astor Will Contest Not Contemplated (New York Times, Sunday 18th August 1912, ref: #11253, published 2 January 2010, generated 4th December 2022 12:30:10 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/astor-will-contest-not-contemplated-11253.html