ExposingAdventism.com

It has been since October 22, 1844
 
Home >> Ellen White >> Estate at Death
Ellen White - Adventist Prophetess

Exposing Adventism - Estate at Death

Quote:

From Ellen G. White Volume 6 The Later Elmshaven Years 1905-1915, By Arthur L. White (1982), Appendix B, pages 453-459

THE SETTLEMENT OF ELLEN G. WHITE'S ESTATE

IN LATE 1912, W. C. WHITE, IN RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS ASKED BY A MINISTER LABORING IN THE MIDWEST, GAVE, IN GENERAL TERMS, A SUMMARY OF THOSE FACTORS THAT YIELDED THE STATE OF ELLEN G. WHITE'S FINANCIAL AFFAIRS. HE WROTE:

WHEN FATHER DIED IN 1881, HE LEFT PROPERTY WORTH FROM $15,000 TO $20,000. SOME OF IT WAS REAL ESTATE, SOME OF IT WAS INVESTED IN BOOKS. SOME OF THE BOOKS SOLD WELL; OTHERS SHRANK IN VALUE.

DURING THE NEXT TEN YEARS FOLLOWING FATHER'S DEATH, MOTHER WROTE SEVERAL BOOKS THAT HAVE HAD A LARGE SALE. SOME WERE TRANSLATED INTO THREE OR FOUR EUROPEAN LANGUAGES. AS A RESULT OF MOTHER'S EARNEST DESIRE TO GET THESE BOOKS BEFORE THE PEOPLE, SHE SHARED WITH THE PUBLISHERS THE INITIAL EXPENSE BY PAYING FOR THE TYPESETTING AND THE MAKING OF ELECTROTYPE PLATES. THE INCOME
FROM THE SALE OF HER BOOKS WAS NOT SUFFICIENT IN MANY CASES TO COVER THESE EXPENSES.
THIS WORK HAS GONE FORWARD UNTIL AT
PRESENT TIME MOTHER HAS ABOUT $40,000 INVESTED IN BOOK PLATES AND COPYRIGHTS, AND SHE HAS BORROWED AND IS PAYING INTEREST ON
ALL THE MONEY THUS INVESTED.

MOTHER'S INCOME FROM THE SALE OF HER BOOKS HAS BEEN USED FROM YEAR TO YEAR:

(A) IN THE EDUCATION OF TEACHERS, MINISTERS, AND MEDICAL MISSIONARIES;

(B) IN THE SUPPORT OF HOME AND FOREIGN MISSIONS;

(C) IN THE BUILDING OF MEETINGHOUSES, INTERMEDIATE SCHOOLS, AND COLLEGES, AND IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SANITARIUMS IN
VARIOUS PLACES;

(D) IN THE TRANSLATING, TYPESETTING, AND ILLUSTRATING OF HER
BOOKS IN MANY LANGUAGES.

IN THESE AND IN SIMILAR WAYS, MOTHER HAS CONSUMED HER INCOME IN WHAT SHE CONSIDERED TO BE LEGITIMATE AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF ADVANCING THE VARIOUS BRANCHES OF THE WORK THAT SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS ARE ENDEAVORING TO CARRY FORWARD.

IN ADDITION TO THESE BOOK PROPERTIES WHICH I HAVE MENTIONED, MOTHER OWNS HER HOME HERE, TWO AND A HALF MILES FROM ST.
HELENA, IN THE LITTLE VALLEY JUST BELOW THE ST. HELENA SANITARIUM. HER HOME CONSISTS OF FARM AND ORCHARD LANDS OF ABOUT THIRTY-FIVE ACRES, A WELL-BUILT, COMFORTABLE HOUSE OF EIGHT ROOMS, AN OFFICE OF NINE ROOMS AND A VAULT, AND A FARMER'S COTTAGE OF FOUR ROOMS; ALSO HORSE AND COW STABLES, FRUIT SHED, AND TANK HOUSE. THIS PROPERTY, IF ESTIMATED AT FULL VALUE, WOULD PROBABLY BE WORTH JUST ABOUT AS MUCH AS WHAT FATHER LEFT HER WHEN HE DIED.

ANOTHER FEATURE OF EXPENDITURE WHICH I DID NOT MENTION ABOVE IS WHAT MOTHER HAS GIVEN TO HER SONS AND HER GRANDCHILDREN. WHEN FATHER DIED WITHOUT A WILL, MY BROTHER AND I SIGNED OFF ALL CLAIMS TO THE PROPERTY SO THAT EVERYTHING WENT TO MOTHER,
AND FROM TIME TO TIME MOTHER HAS GIVEN TO US THAT WHICH SHE CONSIDERED TO BE OUR PORTION. SHE HAS ALSO HELPED MY TWO OLDEST
DAUGHTERS $700 EACH TO HELP THEM IN SECURING MODEST HOMES.
AND RECENTLY SHE GAVE MY TWIN BOYS, 16 YEARS OLD, A STRIP OF
MOUNTAIN LAND
WHICH THEY ARE CLEARING AND IMPROVING AND SELLING WITH THE INTENTION OF DEPOSITING THE PROCEEDS IN THE
COLLEGE TO HELP THEM IN THEIR SCHOOLING.

IT IS MOTHER'S DESIRE, AND SHE HAS MADE PROVISION TO THAT EFFECT IN HER WILL, THAT AFTER HER DEATH, 75 PERCENT OF THE INCOME FROM HER PUBLICATIONS SHALL GO TO THE PUBLISHING AND EDUCATIONAL AND MISSIONARY ENTERPRISES OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST DENOMINATION, AND THAT 25 PERCENT OF THE NET INCOME SHALL BE DIVIDED AMONG HER HEIRS.--WCW TO L. H. CHRISTIAN, NOV. 3,
1912.

THE ELLEN G. WHITE WILL

THIS IS HOW THINGS STOOD IN 1912, THE YEAR ELLEN WHITE SIGNED THE WILL, AS REFERRED TO IN CHAPTER 27. BUT THE FINANCIAL MATTERS DID NOT WORK OUT THAT WAY. TWO ELEMENTS STAND OUT IN THE ELLEN G. WHITE WILL:

(1) THE CUSTODY OF THE E. G. WHITE WRITINGS AFTER HER DEATH, AND

(2) THE PROVISIONS DEALING WITH FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS.

AS TO THE FEATURES DEALING WITH THE CARE OF HER WRITINGS, MOST ARE FAMILIAR. THE WILL STATES:

I HEREBY GIVE, DEVISE, AND BEQUEATH TO WILLIAM C. WHITE, CLARENCE C. CRISLER, CHARLES H. JONES, ARTHUR G. DANIELLS, AND FRANK M. WILCOX . . . [HERE IN THE WILL THERE APPEARS A LISTING OF HER MODEST PROPERTIES, CONSISTING OF THE HOME AND ITS APPURTENANCES] ALL OF MY RIGHT, TITLE, AND INTEREST IN THE COPYRIGHTS AND BOOK PLATES IN ALL LANGUAGES OF THE FOLLOWING PUBLICATIONS . . .
[HERE FOLLOWS A LIST OF HER THEN-CURRENT BOOKS, EXCEPT EDUCATION]. ALSO, MY GENERAL MANUSCRIPT FILE AND ALL INDEXES
PERTAINING THERETO; ALSO, MY OFFICE FURNITURE AND OFFICE LIBRARY.

TOGETHER WITH ALL AND SINGULAR, THE TENEMENTS, HEREDITAMENTS, AND APPURTENANCES THERETO BELONGING, OR IN ANYWISE APPERTAINING, IN TRUST NEVERTHELESS FOR THE USES AND PURPOSES HEREINAFTER CONTAINED.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, THE SAID REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY UNTO SAID TRUSTEES, AND THEIR SUCCESSORS, UPON THE TRUST TO ENTER INTO AND UPON AND TAKE POSSESSION OF THE SAID REAL ESTATE AND SAID PERSONAL PROPERTY . . . ADMINISTERING, PRESERVING, AND
PROTECTING THE SAID REAL PROPERTY AND HANDLING SAID PERSONAL PROPERTY, AND PUBLISHING AND SELLING SAID BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS AND CONDUCTING THE BUSINESS THEREOF.

THE WILL THEN LEADS INTO CERTAIN FINANCIAL PROVISIONS. IN FURTHER SPECIFYING THE WORK OF THE TRUSTEES IN THEIR CARE AND USE OF THE WRITINGS, IT STATES:

THEN MY SAID TRUSTEES SHALL USE THE OVERPLUS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS HELD IN TRUST BY THEM, AND HEREIN PROVIDED; FOR THE SECURING AND PRINTING OF NEW TRANSLATIONS THEREOF; FOR THE PRINTING OF COMPILATIONS FROM MY MANUSCRIPTS.--DF 832. [THE WILL IS PUBLISHED IN FULL IN F.D. NICHOL'S ELLEN G. WHITE AND HER CRITICS, AND COPIES MAY BE HAD ON REQUEST FROM THE ELLEN G. WHITE ESTATE]

THE WILL ALSO PROVIDED FOR THE CONTINUATION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES IN PERPETUITY.

A MINIMUM OF LITERARY PROPERTY WAS LEFT WITH W. C. WHITE, PRIMARILY OUT-OF-PRINT BOOKS AND EDUCATION, AS A MEANS OF CUSTODY. THESE WERE IN TIME TRANSFERRED TO THE ELLEN G. WHITE ESTATE, INCORPORATED, PUTTING ALL OF THE E. G. WHITE LITERARY PROPERTIES UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES.

AS TO THE FINANCIAL PROVISIONS, AS NOTED BY W. C. WHITE IN HIS 1912 LETTER, 75 PERCENT OF HER ESTATE WAS LEFT TO MEET THE OUTSTANDING OBLIGATIONS INCURRED, TO ADVANCE THE WORK OF THE CHURCH AND TO THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST DENOMINATION, MAINLY FOR THE WORK OF THE TRUSTEES WHO WOULD CARRY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CARE AND PUBLICATION OF HER WRITINGS.

TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF HER ESTATE SHE WILLED TO THE FAMILY. TEN PERCENT WAS ASSIGNED TO WILLIAM AND HIS HEIRS. TEN PERCENT WAS ASSIGNED TO EDSON, BUT AS HE WAS CHILDLESS, PROVISION WAS MADE THAT AFTER HIS DEATH THIS PORTION WOULD BE USED IN THE MISSIONARY WORK OF THE CHURCH, PRIMARILY AMONG BLACKS. FIVE PERCENT WAS DEDICATED TO A FUND TO ASSIST IN THE EDUCATION OF HER RANDCHILDREN,
GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN, AND OTHER WORTHY PERSONS. THUS THE ULTIMATE BEQUEST TO THE FAMILY WAS 15 PERCENT OF THE ESTATE, LEAVING 85
PERCENT FOR THE WORK OF THE CHURCH.

SHE WILLED HER PERSONAL POSSESSIONS AND FURNITURE TO HER TWO SONS AND MADE AN OUTRIGHT BEQUEST OF $500 EACH TO SARA MCENTERFER, CLARENCE CRISLER, AND HER GRANDDAUGHTERS, ELLA ROBINSON AND MABLE WORKMAN, DAUGHTERS OF W. C. WHITE'S FIRST WIFE.

ELLEN WHITE HAD CLEARLY IN MIND THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY HAD LIVED ON A VERY RESTRICTED BASIS, FINANCIALLY. IN RECOGNITION OF
THEIR DEDICATED AND SELF-SACRIFICING SERVICE TO HER WORK AND TO THE CAUSE OF GOD, SHE DESIRED TO HAVE THEM BENEFIT SOMEWHAT FROM HER ESTATE. ALL THIS WAS ARRANGED IN HER WILL, DATED FEBRUARY 9, 1912, CAREFULLY DRAWN UP BY A COMPETENT ATTORNEY AND DULY EXECUTED.

BUT IT DID NOT WORK OUT THAT WAY!

THE SETTLEMENT OF ELLEN WHITE'S ESTATE

AS NOTED IN THE TEXT, ELLEN WHITE EMPLOYED AN EXPERIENCED ACCOUNTANT WHO KEPT CAREFUL RECORDS OF EXPENSES AND INCOMES AND ALSO THE RECORD OF BORROWED MONIES WITH WHICH TO AID THE CAUSE OF GOD AND TO CARRY FORWARD HER BOOK WORK. ACCORDING TO THESE RECORDS AT THE TIME OF HER DEATH, ELLEN WHITE'S PROPERTIES, INCLUDING HOME, FARM, BOOK PLATES, COPYRIGHTS, AND MANUSCRIPTS WERE VALUED, IN ROUND FIGURES, AT $121,000; THE LIABILITIES WERE RECORDED AT $88,000. WHEN HER WILL WAS PROBATED IN THE USUAL WAY IN THE NAPA COUNTY SUPREME COURT, THE JUDGE, THOUGH FRIENDLY, DID NOT AGREE WITH THE ADVICE OF ATTORNEY BELL THAT PROVISION COULD BE MADE FOR THE CREDITORS TO AWAIT PAYMENT PENDING THE EARNINGS OF THE ESTATE IN BOOK ROYALTIES. RATHER HE HELD THAT, IN COMPLIANCE WITH LAW AND NORMAL PROCEDURES, ALL CLAIMS AGAINST ELLEN WHITE'S ESTATE MUST BE MET PROMPTLY AND THE ESTATE CLOSED UP.

THE JUDGE APPOINTED THREE MEN TO APPRAISE THE PROPERTY: J. H. STEVES, A ST. HELENA HARDWARE MERCHANT; L. M. BOWEN, MANAGER OF THE ST. HELENA SANITARIUM; AND H. S. DAVIS, A ST. HELENA BUSINESSMAN. IT WAS NOT DIFFICULT FOR THESE MEN TO LOOK OVER THE REAL ESTATE, FARM IMPLEMENTS AND STOCK, OFFICE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, AND PUT DOWN THEIR VALUE. THE BULK OF THE ESTATE, HOWEVER, WAS IN LITERARY PROPERTIES, BOOK PLATES, AND COPYRIGHTS (THE RECORD OF WHICH WAS IN THE ELMSHAVEN VAULT), AND THE E. G. WHITE MANUSCRIPTS, WHICH HAD BEEN PUT ON THE BOOKS OF ACCOUNT AT THE COST OF PRODUCTION IN LABOR AND MATERIALS. ALL OF THESE THE APPRAISERS WERE OBLIGATED TO LIST AT THEIR ESTIMATED VALUE AT A SUM THAT THEY WOULD BRING IN AN IMMEDIATE SALE. MR. STEVES TOLD THE AUTHOR THAT WHEN W. C. WHITE OPENED THE VAULT DOOR AND EXPLAINED THAT IT HELD THE E. G. WHITE MANUSCRIPTS AND THE RECORDS OF COPYRIGHTS AND BOOK PLATES, THE APPRAISING COMMITTEE WAS AT A TOTAL LOSS TO ARRIVE AT AN EVALUATION, AND SO THE MEN WROTE DOWN AN ARBITRARY FIGURE OF $40,000. MERELY A GUESS.

THIS $40,000 FOR LITERARY PROPERTIES, TOGETHER WITH THE $26,000 AT WHICH THE HOME AND OTHER PROPERTIES WERE LISTED, LEFT THE ESTATE $21,000 SHORT OF ITS OBLIGATIONS. ELLEN WHITE WAS, FOR LEGAL PURPOSES, DECLARED INSOLVENT. THE WHITE TRUSTEES AND THE LEADERS OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE WHO WERE CALLED IN FOR COUNSEL WERE CONFRONTED WITH AN UNEXPECTED BUT VERY REAL PROBLEM. THESE WERE DAYS WHEN MONEY WAS IN SHORT SUPPLY, $21,000 WAS A LARGE SUM, AND THE SHORTAGE WAS A BAFFLING MATTER. FROM A FINANCIAL STANDPOINT THERE WERE NO MEANS WITH WHICH TO MEET ALL THE BEQUESTS OF THE WILL. IT WAS CONSIDERED A "DRY TRUST."

IT WAS FINALLY AGREED:
(1) THAT THE GENERAL CONFERENCE CORPORATION WOULD ADVANCE TO THE WHITE TRUSTEES, AS AN INTEREST-BEARING LOAN, SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO MEET ALL OUTSTANDING OBLIGATIONS. THE LOAN WOULD BE REPAID BY SALE OF PROPERTY AND FROM ROYALTY INCOMES.

(2) THAT EACH OF THE TWO SONS TO WHOM 10 PERCENT OF THE ESTATE WAS BEQUEATHED WOULD, IN EXCHANGE FOR A MODEST SETTLEMENT, RELINQUISH THEIR CLAIMS ON THE ESTATE. TO J. E. WHITE, THIS MEANT A CANCELLATION OF HIS OBLIGATIONS TO THE ESTATE FOR THE NEARLY $10,000 ADVANCED BY HIS MOTHER TO ASSIST IN HIS PUBLISHING VENTURES. TO W. C. WHITE, IT MEANT A LIKE AMOUNT.

(3) THE FOUR INDIVIDUALS TO WHOM $500 EACH HAD BEEN BEQUEATHED WOULD, WHEN ALL DEBTS WERE PAID, RECEIVE THE MONEY FROM ROYALTY INCOMES. THIS WAS IN TIME ACCOMPLISHED.

(4) IN VIEW OF ELLEN WHITE'S ESTATE BEING A "DRY TRUST," THE PROVISION IN HER WILL THAT WOULD HAVE MADE 5 PERCENT AVAILABLE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES COULD NOT BE CARRIED OUT. THE THREE TRUSTEES WHO WERE TO ADMINISTER THE FUND RELINQUISHED ALL CLAIMS UPON IT.

THUS, NO HEIR OF ELLEN WHITE BENEFITS FINANCIALLY FROM THE FACT THAT SHE WAS AN AUTHOR.

WITH THE MONEY ADVANCED BY THE GENERAL CONFERENCE CORPORATION AT 4 PERCENT INTEREST, ALL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS WERE PROMPTLY MET AND THE ESTATE OF ELLEN G. WHITE PROPERLY CLOSED. THE HOME PROPERTY WAS SOLD TO HELP IN PROVIDING FUNDS. BECAUSE ROYALTY RATES WERE IN 1918 REDUCED BY 50 PERCENT, AND BECAUSE THE ROYALTIES PAID WERE DIVIDED BETWEEN SUPPORTING THE WORK OF THE WHITE TRUSTEES AND DEBT REPAYMENT, IT TOOK CONSIDERABLE TIME FOR THE WHITE ESTATE TO BUY ITS WAY OUT. IN 1933, IN AGREEMENTS ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE FIVE ORIGINALLY APPOINTED TRUSTEES AND THE GENERAL CONFERENCE CORPORATION, THE WORK OF THE ELLEN G. WHITE ESTATE, INCORPORATED, WAS PUT ON A MORE STABLE FINANCIAL BASIS. FROM THAT TIME IT HAS BEEN SUPPORTED BY AN ANNUAL BUDGET PROVIDED BY THE GENERAL CONFERENCE OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS AS A PART OF THE WORK OF THE CHURCH. IN TURN, THE GENERAL CONFERENCE CORPORATION RECEIVES ALL ROYALTY INCOMES FROM THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELLEN G. WHITE BOOKS.

THE SUPPORT PROVIDED BY THE GENERAL CONFERENCE IS IN THREE AREAS:

FIRST, ASSISTANCE IN TRANSLATING AND PUBLISHING THE E. G. WHITE BOOKS OVERSEAS, A POINT TOUCHED ON IN ELLEN WHITE'S WILL;
SECOND, IN PROVIDING A BUDGET FOR THE OPERATION OF THE WORK OF THE WHITE ESTATE;
AND THIRD, IN THE ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE SEVERAL SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST ELLEN G. WHITE RESEARCH CENTERS OVERSEAS.

THESE THREE FEATURES CALL FOR FUNDS FAR IN EXCESS OF ROYALTY INCOMES FROM THE SALE OF THE E. G. WHITE BOOKS. THUS, THROUGH THE ARRANGEMENT WITH THE GENERAL CONFERENCE, FUNDS ARE MADE AVAILABLE FOR AN OUTREACH THAT SERVES THE CHURCH WELL AND WOULD DELIGHT THE HEART OF ELLEN G. WHITE.

 

 
Our Observation

 

 
 
Links
 
See Also
 
Public Comments

 

 
 
Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this ExposingAdventism.com website is 2007-2008 by Gilbert Jorgensen. Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.