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United States v. Provident Trust Co., 291 U.S. 272 (1934)

United States v. Provident Trust Co.

No. 224

Argued January 11, 12, 1934

Decided February 5, 1934

291 U.S. 272


1. In determining the value of a devise to charities of a remainder contingent upon the death without issue of a female life tenant in order that such value may be deducted from gross income in computing the federal estate tax, it is permissible to prove that, before the death of the testator, the life tenant became incapable of having issue, as the result of a surgical operation by which her procreative organs were removed. P. 291 U. S. 281.

2. The ancient rule that a woman is conclusively presumed to be capable of bearing children as long as she lives was, like other irrebuttable presumptions, a rule of expediency or policy, based upon the belief that to permit proof of the facts would result in injuries of greater consequence than the predominance of truth over error in the cases to which it applied. P. 291 U. S. 281.

3. Applicability of this presumption remains a proper subject of judicial inquiry in the light of modern knowledge and experience. Pp. 291 U. S. 282, 291 U. S. 285.

4. Application of a conclusive presumption of possibility of issue in the present case would be subversive of the policy of the estate tax statute to encourage bequests to charitable organizations. P. 291 U. S. 286.

77 Ct.Cls. 37, 2 F.Supp. 472, affirmed.

Certiorari, 290 U.S. 14, to review a judgment allowing a claim for overpayment of federal estate tax.

Page 291 U. S. 279

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