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Estate of Hafner

Court of Appeal of California
184 Cal. App. 3d 1371 (1986)


Facts

Joan and Charles Hafner were married in 1954 in New York. Joan and Charles had three daughters together: Catherine, Lillian, and Dorothy. Joan and Charles finally separated in 1957. The last time Joan saw Charles was in 1958 at a hearing regarding child support. Neither Joan nor Charles ever filed for divorce from the other. In 1962, Charles and Helen Hafner met. Charles told Helen he had divorced his wife Joan and that he did not have to pay child support, because he gave up his interest in a home. On October 14, 1963, Helen and Charles went through a marriage ceremony in Las Vegas. Helen and Charles lived as husband and wife from that point forward. The couple had a daughter named Kimberly in 1964. In 1973, Charles was injured in an accident. Charles was unable to work due to severe injuries and brain damage. Charles received $600,000 from a personal-injury settlement from the accident in 1975. Charles died intestate on December 25, 1982. Charles’s estate was valued at $416,472.40, the remainder of his personal-injury settlement. Helen (plaintiff) filed a petition in probate court to determine if there were any other individuals with a claim to Charles’s estate. Joan and her daughters (defendants) filed a response detailing their claims against Charles’s estate. Kimberly also filed a statement of interest in the estate. The trial court awarded Charles’s entire estate to Helen as Charles’s putative spouse. Joan, her daughters, and Kimberly appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Danielson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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Dissent (Lui, J.)

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