The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORRIS
This is an action brought to recover certain funds of plaintiff's testatrix, held by the defendant in checking and savings accounts, together with interest on such monies. By a stipulation of facts, as amended, the following appears: Plaintiff's testatrix, Virginia Cameron Martin, died at Jackson, Mississippi, the State of her domicile, on the 15th day of March 1942. In 1934, while living in the District of Columbia, deceased opened checking and savings accounts with the defendant, the balances in which at the time of her death totaled $33,733.20 and $5,142.50, respectively, the latter including interest last credited to October 1, 1941. Plaintiff, having been granted letters testamentary on the 6th day of April 1942 by the Chancery Court of Madison County, Mississippi, made demand by letter, received by the defendant on or about April 14, 1942, for the payment to him of the monies to the credit of his testatrix. Defendant advised plaintiff that it was willing to transfer the said funds to an ancillary executor appointed in the District of Columbia, or to the plaintiff upon being indemnified against claim of possible local creditors, or to make payment without bond of indemnity upon the expiration of one year from the date of decedent's death.
Defendant made a further requirement that a waiver be secured from the Tax Assessor of the District of Columbia, but it is not necessary to discuss this, as the plaintiff stood ready to secure such waiver and subsequently did so.
Upon the refusal of plaintiff to comply with any one of the alternative conditions, the defendant on May 23, 1942, definitely refused to make payment of said monies.
It further appears that on March 16, 1943, three days after the commencement of this suit, the defendant advised plaintiff that, a year having expired since the death of decedent, it would pay all of her monies in its possession to plaintiff. Payment was made thereafter by the defendant to the plaintiff of the sum of $38,933.20, representing the sum of $33,733.20, the balance of decedent's checking account, and the sum of $5,200, the credit balance in the savings account, including interest at the agreed rate. No interest was paid on the funds in the checking account. The payment of such monies was made by defendant and accepted by plaintiff without prejudice to any right of plaintiff to recover damages for defendant's refusal to make earlier payment.
No ancillary administration has been had in the District of Columbia on the estate here involved. The defendant had no knowledge of any claim of any creditor or person domiciled in the District of Columbia against the decedent, and no such claim has become apparent.
The plaintiff has moved for a summary judgment in his favor in the sum of $1,647.26, representing interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum on the monies in the checking account, alleged to have been wrongfully withheld from the plaintiff from May 23, 1942, until March 16, 1943.
It is urged by the plaintiff in support of the motion that, under the "general law," a domiciliary executor has title to the personalty of his decedent wherever located, and can give good acquittance for the delivery of same to him, but he cannot bring suit outside the State of his appointment. He urges, however, that, under the statutes of the District of Columbia, an executor duly appointed in any of the United States has full authority to sue for and collect assets of his decedent in the District as far as any debtor or holder of assets is concerned, unless ancillary letters have been granted in the District of Columbia, subject only to the statutory lien of the Assessor of Taxes.
"§ 18 -- 501. Creditors' rights against property of nonresident decedent -- Limitation. On the death of any person not domiciled in the District of Columbia at the time of his death so much of his real and personal estate in the District of Columbia as may be necessary for the payment and discharge of just claims against him of creditors and persons domiciled in the District of Columbia shall also be the subject of administration under authority and direction of the probate court, irrespective of the personal estate of such decedent at his place of domicile or elsewhere: Provided, The prosecution of such claims is begun in said court within one year after the death of such decedent. (Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1231, ch. 854, § 260; June 30, 1902, 32 Stat. 528, ch. 1329.)
"§ 20 -- 505. Foreign executors and administrators -- Suits by. It shall be lawful for any person or persons to whom letters testamentary or of administration have been granted by the proper authority in any of the United States or the territories thereof to maintain any suit or action and to prosecute and recover any claim in the District in the same manner as if the letters testamentary or of administration had been granted to such person or persons by the proper authority in the said District; and the letters testamentary or of administration, or a copy thereof certified under the seal of the authority granting the same, shall be sufficient evidence to prove the granting thereof, and that the person or persons, as the case may be, hath or have administration: Provided, nevertheless, That the probate court of the District shall have the power, upon the petition of anyone interested, to require from such person or persons the security required by law in like cases from a resident administrator or executor, or the said court may grant auxiliary or ancillary letters, as the case may require, to the same or other persons.(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1242, ch. 854, § 329.)"
Section 18 -- 501 was originally enacted March 3, 1901, as Section 260 of the District of Columbia Code of 1901, 31 Stats. 1231, being amended (in so far as here material) by Act of June 30, 1902, 32 Stats. 528, to make the same applicable to personal as well as real property in the District of Columbia, thus making the statute read as it now does in Section 18 -- 501 above. Section 20 -- 505 has a longer and more varied history. It was originally enacted, without the proviso, in substantially the same terms only eleven years after the establishment of the District of Columbia as Section 11, Chapter 106 of the Act of June 24, 1812, 2 Stats. 758. United States ex rel. Halstead v. Wyman, 2 Mackey 368, at page 372; United States for Use of Mackey et al. v. Coxe, 18 How. 100, 15 L. Ed. 299. By its omission from the District of Columbia Revised Statutes, enacted by the 43rd Congress, First Session, and approved June 22, 1874, such provision was considered repealed. United States ex rel. Halstead v. Wyman, supra; Wyman, etc., v. United States ex rel. Halstead, 109 U.S. 654, 3 S. Ct. 417, 27 L. Ed. 1068. Such provision was, however re-enacted by the Act approved February 28, 1887, 24 Stats. 431, with a proviso: "That the supreme court of the District of Columbia shall have the power, and such power is hereby given to the said court, upon petition of any one interested, to require from such person or persons the security now required by law in like case from a resident administrator or executor."
There is also included in such act a section reading as follows: "Sec. 2. That all exceptions in favor of parties beyond the District of Columbia which may by existing laws be replied [sic] or relied on in any action or proceeding brought in the said District are hereby repealed and abrogated: Provided, That this section shall not affect the right of parties in actions now pending."
This statute was further amended by Section 329, Chapter 854, of the Act to Establish a Code for the District of Columbia, approved March 3, 1901, 31 Stats. 1242, so that to the proviso was added the sentence: "Or the said court may grant auxiliary or ancillary ...