Estate of Henry A. Lassiter, deceased, Paula Ann Masters Lassiter, administrator, C.T.A. - Page 17

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               With the exception of the affidavit by Rufus A. Chambers,                
          discussed below, all of the disputed items relate either to the               
          estate’s attempts to obtain a private letter ruling in this                   
          matter or to respondent’s internal communications in preparing                
          the statutory notice.  To the extent that these materials contain             
          pertinent factual information, such facts are otherwise present               
          in the record by means of uncontested stipulations and exhibits.              
          To the extent that the documents contain respondent’s legal                   
          conclusions, they are without a place in our analysis.  As we                 
          have previously established, “a trial before the Tax Court is a               
          proceeding de novo; our determination as to a petitioner’s tax                
          liability must be based on the merits of the case and not any                 
          previous record developed at the administrative level.”                       
          Greenberg’s Express, Inc. v. Commissioner, supra at 328.  In                  
          carrying out this mandate here, we cannot substitute selected                 
          conclusions made by respondent in administrative papers for our               
          own.  We instead must engage in an independent review of the                  
          facts and application of law thereto.  The disputed materials                 
          thus are basically superfluous, and we sustain respondent’s                   
               With respect to the affidavit of Mr. Chambers, the parties               
          focus their arguments on the standards for admissibility of parol             
          evidence to aid in construction of a will.  The affidavit of Mr.              
          Chambers, the attorney who drafted the 1970 will, was prepared                

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