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SINGLETON v. SINGLETON

March 18, 1958

CHARLES T. SINGLETON, APPELLANT,
v.
H.H. SINGLETON, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moss, Justice.

March 18, 1958.

Rosa Singleton died intestate and H.H. Singleton, one of her heirs, was appointed administrator of her estate by the Probate Court of Horry County, South Carolina.

This action was instituted by Charles T. Singleton, the appellant herein, against H.H. Singleton, individually and as administrator of said estate, the respondent herein, for the purpose of requiring the respondent to account for all of his acts and doings as administrator of said estate. The complaint alleges that the respondent, both before and after the death of the decedent, had been in possession of property belonging to her, and had failed to account for said property. The complaint asks for judgment against the respondent in accordance with the accounting and for the amount shown to be justly due and owing to the appellant.

The respondent, by way of answer, admitted that the appellant and respondent were heirs at law of the deceased, and that he was administrator of said estate, and specifically denied that he had misappropriated or failed to bring into the estate any property belonging to the decedent.

The record shows that in addition to Charles T. Singleton and H.H. Singleton, the parties to this action, that the other heirs at law of Rosa Singleton were J.R. Singleton, A.J. Singleton, Arthur B. Singleton, James G. Singleton, Joe Singleton, Elwood Beverly Singleton, Douglas Singleton, Ernest Singleton and Alton Singleton.

The respondent, by proper motion, moved the Court for an order bringing in as parties to this action the above named heirs at law of the decedent, upon the ground that the above named parties "are necessary to a complete determination or settlement of the questions arising in this cause; that a complete determination of the controversies cannot be had without the presence of these said parties; and that the bringing in of said parties would avoid a multiplicity of actions." The motion was supported by an affidavit of counsel, the record in this cause and the records of this estate in the Probate Court for Horry County, South Carolina.

The trial Judge, over the objection of appellant, granted the motion of the respondent and ordered that the appellant amend his summons and complaint so as to bring in as parties to this action the aforementioned heirs at law of the decedent. It was also ordered that the appellant take such steps "as may be necessary to bring in and make such persons either parties plaintiff or parties defendant to this action."

The appellant is before this Court on exceptions challenging the correctness of the order of the lower Court.

In the case of Witherspoon v. Stogner, 182 S.C. 413, 189 S.E. 758, 759, this Court said:

"Each complaint clearly and distinctly alleges the existence of the trust relationship, the necessity for an accounting, seeks and demands such accounting and judgment for such sum of money as is by said accounting shown to be justly due and owing to plaintiff.

"That a fiduciary relationship exists between each heir or beneficiary of an estate and the administratrix thereof is fundamental. It is also fundamental that each such cestui que trust has the right to demand by a suit in equity an accounting at the hands of such trustee, as has been done in these actions, and that thereupon it becomes the duty of such defendant trustee to render a full, fair, and impartial accounting with respect to all matters pertaining to said estate."

The appellant charges the trial Judge with an abuse of discretion in ordering that the additional heirs at law of the decedent be joined as parties plaintiff or parties defendant to this action.

Section 10-202, Code of Laws of South Carolina 1952, provides:

"All persons having an interest in the subject of the action and in obtaining the relief demanded may be joined as plaintiffs, except ...


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