Pearson v. McGraw, 308 U.S. 313 (1939)

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

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Pearson v. McGraw, 308 U.S. 313 (1939)

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Pearson v. McGraw

No. 69

Argued November 15, 16, 1939
Decided December 4, 1939
308 U.S. 313



A resident of Oregon, owning bonds in Illinois, held for him by a trust company acting as custodian and financial agent, and having also a checking account with the company, directed the company to raise a specified sum of money by sale of bonds in its hands and by use of his cash balance, and to apply that sum to the purchase of an equal amount in Federal Reserve notes. When this had been done, and the trust company had held the notes for a few days, he executed in Oregon an instrument by which, in contemplation of death, he made a transfer of the notes to the trust company, as trustee for designated beneficiaries, reserving to himself no interest and no power of revocation. Thereafter, the trust company held the notes under the trust agreement for several days, and then used them from time to time to purchase bonds for the account of the trust. Its original engagement as custodian and agent antedated the settlor’s domicile in Oregon, and none of the securities handled by the company was ever physically present in that State.

Held, that the sale of the bonds, the purchase of the notes, and their transfer to the trustee constituted an integrated and indivisible transaction effecting a transfer of intangibles in contemplation of death, and that, whatever the nature of the Federal Reserve notes -- whether tangible or intangible property -- tax upon this transfer by the State of Oregon would not contravene the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Curry v. McCanless, 307 U.S. 357. P. 317.

161 Ore. 1; 86 P.2d 424; 87 P.2d 766, reversed.

Certiorari, post, p. 531, to review a judgment which reversed in part an order of the Circuit Court of Oregon in probate, determining an inheritance tax.


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Chicago: U.S. Supreme Court, "Syllabus," Pearson v. McGraw, 308 U.S. 313 (1939) in 308 U.S. 313 308 U.S. 314. Original Sources, accessed March 24, 2023,

MLA: U.S. Supreme Court. "Syllabus." Pearson v. McGraw, 308 U.S. 313 (1939), in 308 U.S. 313, page 308 U.S. 314. Original Sources. 24 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: U.S. Supreme Court, 'Syllabus' in Pearson v. McGraw, 308 U.S. 313 (1939). cited in 1939, 308 U.S. 313, pp.308 U.S. 314. Original Sources, retrieved 24 March 2023, from