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Estate of Joseph
California Supreme Court
949 P.2d 472 (1998)
Louis Joseph and his wife raised Kim Barnum-Smith (plaintiff) from the time she was three years old, acting as her foster parents. The Josephs repeatedly asked Barnum-Smith’s biological parents for their consent to adopt Barnum-Smith, but the biological parents refused. Eventually, while Barnum-Smith was still a minor, the Josephs stopped asking for consent to adopt her. However, the Josephs still took full care of Barnum-Smith their entire lives, including paying for her college education and acting like her parents at her wedding. Joseph prepared a will that left his estate to his wife and did not mention Barnum-Smith. However, Joseph’s wife died first, and Joseph never changed his will. Thus, when Joseph died, his estate was distributed under intestacy laws. Barnum-Smith petitioned to be considered Joseph’s child for purposes of the intestate distribution.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mosk, J.)
Dissent (Chin, J.)
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