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Opinion of the Court.
This statute, as has been adjudged by this court, establishes a rule of property, and not of procedure only; and applies to all cases where the creditor, or his representative, is obliged, by the nature of the interest sought to be reached, to resort to a court of equity for relief, as he must do in all cases where the legal title is in trustees, for the purpose of serving the requirements of an active trust, and where, consequently, the creditor has no lien, and can acquire none, at law, but obtains one only by filing a bill in equity for that purpose. The words "in trust," as used in the exception or proviso, cannot have a more restricted meaning than the same words in the enacting clause. Spindle v. Shreve, 111 U. S. 542, 546, 547; Williams v. Thorne, 70 N. Y. 270, 277; Hardenburg v. Blair, 3 Stew. (30 N. J. Eq.) 645, 666.
As the only title of James Couch in the property devised was an equitable interest which could not lawfully have been taken on execution at law against him, and as the trust was an active trust,“ in good faith created by," and "the fund so held in trust proceeded from," the testator, “a person other than the defendant himself,” the letter and the spirit of the statute alike require that this equitable interest should not be charged for his debts.
It follows that neither the judgments and executions at law, nor the suits in equity, against James Couch, gave any lien or title to his creditors; and that the deed from him to a receiver was wrongly ordered by the state court in which one of the suits was commenced, and was rightly set aside by the Circuit Court since the removal of that suit.
5. The appellant IIale claims the share of James Couch under a deed from him and his wife. The interest conveyed by that deed being an equitable interest only, Hale requires the aid of a court of equity to perfect his title, and would have to seek it by cross bill, but for the order of the Circuit Court that each answer should be taken as a cross bill. The real consideration of that conveyance was an agreement by which IIale promised to buy up the existing judgments against James Couch, to sell the interest conveyed by the deed of James and wife, and to pay to the wife one half of the net proceeds. In
Opinion of the Court.
fact, he bought up some of the judgments only, and sold those again, and never performed his agreement in this or any other particular. Consequently, he is not entitled to the affirmative interposition of a court of equity to obtain the interest included in the deed. Towle v. Ambs, 123 Illinois, 410.
6. It remains only to consider the contention that by the instrument of January 8, 1877, the devisees entered into an agreement by which they took the whole estate as tenants in common, and rendered any division unnecessary, and therefore all the duties of the trustees ended, and the legal title vested in the residuary devisees, at the expiration of the twenty years. Undoubtedly, those interested in property held in trust, and ultimately entitled to the entire proceeds, may elect to take the property in its then condition, and to hold it as tenants in common; but the acts showing an intention so to take must be unequivocal, and must be concurred in by all the parties interested. Young v. Bradley, 101 U. S. 782; Baker V. Copenbarger, 15 Illinois, 103; Ridgeway v. Underwood, 67 Illinois, 419; 1 Jarman on Wills (4th ed.) 598-602. In the present case, the instrument in question cannot have this effect, for two reasons: In the first place, it manifested no intention to alter in any way the existing titles of the residuary devisees, either as being legal or equitable, or as being in severalty or in common; but was simply a power of attorney, the object of which was to continue Wood's management of the estate as a whole, as under the twenty-first clause of the will. In the next place, the instrument was not executed by or in behalf of all the parties in interest, inasmuch as it was not executed by any one authorized to affect the share devised for the daughter's benefit for life, and to her children or appointees after her death. By the clear terms of the twentieth clause of the will, neither the daughter nor her husband had any authority to do this; and her trustees had no power over her share until it had been conveyed or set apart to them by the trustees under the will; and if the trustees under the will were duly constituted trustees for her and for her children (which is disputed) they had no greater power in this respect, before the estate was divided, than distinct trustees would have had.
Opinion of the Court.
The result is, that the decree of the Circuit Court must be affirmed in all respects, except that the declaration therein as to the time when the legal estate of the residuary devisees vested must be modified in accordance with the opinion of this court.
This conclusion, by which the brother and the nephew take the shares originally devised to them, carries out the intention of the testator, though probably not by the same steps that he contemplated. Decree accordingly: the appellants in each appeal, except
James Couch, to pay one fourth of the costs, including the cost of printing the record.
MR. JUSTICE BREWER and MR. JUSTICE BROWN took no part in the decision of this case.