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Eddington v. Turner

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Citation. 22 Ill.27 Del. Ch. 411, 38 A.2d 738 (1944)

Brief Fact Summary. Thomas Turner drafted a will devising certain land to his sister, Sallie Turner. Thereafter, Thomas Turner gave a 60-day option to purchase land to Eddington. After Thomas Turner died, Eddington decided to exercise his option to purchase the land.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. In this case the testator evidenced his desire that his sister should have a portion of his land for life. Then he granted an option for 60 days, which he had no way of knowing would be exercised or not. The testator had no enforceable right to the purchase money, thus the application of equitable conversion would not make sense.

Facts. Thomas Turner drafted a will on October 17, 1938, devising certain land to his sister, Sallie Turner. Thereafter, on October 20, 1938, Thomas Turner gave a 60-day option to purchase land (including the land devised to his sister) to Eddington. Thomas Turner died prior to the expiration of the 60-day period, and Eddington, after Turner’s death but prior to the expiration of the option, decided to exercise his option to purchase. When Thomas Turner died, his only heirs at law under the intestate law of the State of Delaware were his two sons, who were also executors of his will. Eddington filed a bill for specific performance of the option agreement as against the estate, a deed was made to Eddington for the property, and the purchase money was deposited into the court. A petition was made to draw the money out of the court. The lower court held that Sallie Turner was entitled to a life interest in such portion of the proceeds as the land devised to her for life bore to the amou
nt of land conveyed under the option to purchase. The proportion, as found by a special master, was approved by the lower court and ordered paid to Sallie Turner, who then executed a bond conditioned upon the payment of the sum upon her death to Arthur Turner and Thomas H. Turner, the sole heirs of the decedent. An appeal was taken.

Issue. Does the granting of the option to purchase, made after the execution of the will, and the subsequent exercise of the option after the death of the optionor, operate as an equitable conversion of the property relating back to the date of the option, so that the proceeds of sale would pass to the personal representatives rather than to the specific devisee of the land?
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