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Beam v. Bank of America

Supreme Court of California
490 P.2d 257 (1971)


Mr. Beam (plaintiff) and Mrs. Beam (defendant) were married from 1938 to 1968. Mr. Beam received a substantial inheritance before and at the beginning of the marriage. As a result, neither Mr. Beam nor Mrs. Beam had outside employment during the course of the marriage. Mrs. Beam was a housewife, while Mr. Beam spent his time managing his investments, from which all of the family and living expenses were paid. However, during the 29 years that Mr. and Mrs. Beam were married, the principal of Mr. Beam's investments increased from only $1,629,129 to $1,850,507.33. The trial court calculated that based on a default reasonable rate of return, Mr. Beam’s investments should have been worth more than $4,000,000. Because the investments did not reach that value, the trial court concluded that none of the investment value was attributable to Mr. Beam’s skill or efforts and thus was not community property. Thus, the trial court found that the entirety of Mr. Beam's investments was the separate property of Mr. Beam. Mrs. Beam appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, J.)

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