W[illiam] P[eter] Van Ness to MVB, 21 February 1807
February 21st 1807
By a statute of the State, it is directed that every person to whom
to whom any Legacy is given or bequest made, shall at the time of payment or delivery thereof, give bond in double the amount of such share or legacy with two sufficient sureties, to refund, if there should ultimately be a deficiency of Assets in the hands of the Executors to pay the debts of the Testator. This has never been done by the Legatees under my Fathers will, and I will thank you to inform Mr Van Alen, that the bond alluded to, is now required. This has become indespensably necessary, because the Dividends that have hitherto been hastily made, to satisfy the impatience of the Legatees prove on examination to have been too large, and there is a manifest deficiency of Assets in the hands of the Executors to cover not only the claims urged against the Estate, but to pay the debts acknowledged to be valid.
As to the request which Mr Van Alen has made through you to exhibit the Books & Papers of the Estate for his inspection I have only to say, that I am at all times ready and willing to submit them to the examination of all who are concerned.
When this subject was first mentioned last Fall, I wrote to Mr Van Alen, informing him that the Papers were ready, and desiring that the investigation might take place with out delay. Urging him at the same time, to obtain the consent of the other Executors and Legatees to the appointment of an Agent to whom all the Property in my hands might be delivered over and who should be authorised to make a final settlement of the Estate, adding that I was impatient to deliver over the property and to be relieved from any further concern in the business. I was induced to this measure because I found that in the absence of the other Executors a due attention to the business of the Estate, interfered materially with my other concerns. I informed both my brothers of these my wishes & entrusted that they would meet here at as early a day as might be practicable, to make this arrangement and all others that might be necessary towards effecting a final settlement of the Estate. They will be here early in the Spring, and I am resolved to effect the arrangements I have prepared, if possible. A compensation that will be allowed me, can be a remuneration for the labor of settling the estate unaided by the other Executors.
The propositions I have above noticed and the measures I took to carry them into effect were communicated to Mr Van Alen, and seemed to be satisfactory – and it was also agreed that some final arrangement should be made when the other Executors arrived. Before that it
could ^can^ not be done ^as they are also Legatees.^
The subject is now again introduced most palpably for the purpose of coercing me into some farther division of the Property, which if it were proper I should not feel myself authorised to make, without the presence and consent of the other Executors; But as it is most manifestly improper, because the Legatee instead of receiving, will have to refund for the payment of the debts, I now declare that I will not do it, untill my brothers, ^arrive^ and untill ample security is given,
for by the Legatee for the payment of the debts due from the Estate The Sooner this is done the better it will please me. Even this is a measure which no other Executors would consent to, but if it will give satisfaction, I am willing to submit to it. It is unnecessary to repeat, because you must perceive the injustice, the impracticability, the impropriety at least, of my making a farther division, in the absence of one half of the Legatees, whose attendance has already been requested and who are soon expected to arrive, for the purpose of aiding in a review of the business which is the subject of this letter. Mr Van Alen's application to me, was moreover, rude and improper in the first instance. Without giving ^me^ the least intimation of his wishes–personally, I was applied to by you, in your professional capacity to comply with Mr Van Alens requests, and menacing a prosecution in case of non compliance. On this however, I shall lay no farther stress. I have now given my sentiments and determination on the on the whole of this subject. If they are not satisfactory, you may pursue such measures, as shall be deemed proper and expedient to accomplish the objects you have in view.
Your hm Sert
W. PVan Ness