The rule has become well established in England that, where a testator bequeaths an annuity for life to his beneficiary and directs his executor or trustee to purchase the annuity with assets of the estate, the annuitant has an option to demand the purchase money in lieu of the annuity. The direction to purchase the annuity is clothed by the courts with a power to change the mere gift of an annuity into a gift in the alternative of the principal or the annuity. This direction indicates the will of the testator that a fund representing the principal of the annuity should be severed completely from the bulk of his estate and devoted to the sole benefit of. the annuitant. As a consequence of such severance the fund is considered to be wholly within the control of the legatee. The result follows with equal precision whether testator gives a definite sum of money to his executor and directs him to devote it to an annuity of such amount as may be bought therewith, or directs the executor to purchase an annuity of the stipulated amount and to use such money as will be required. Although the problem has been squarely presented to the American courts on but few occasions, those occasions have resulted in the adoption of the English rule without hesitation or comment. In view, however, of the comparative originality of the problem in American jurisdictions, it would appear worthwhile to question whether the English rule should be further followed in this country.
Raymond R. Allen,
ANNUITIES - RIGHT OF LEGATEE, FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE PURCHASE OF AN ANNUITY IS DIRECTED, TO RECEIVE THE PRINCIPAL IN LIEU THEREOF,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol41/iss2/6