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Estate of Murphy

Supreme Court of California
544 P.2d 956 (1976)


Facts

Murphy and Royene were married for a period of years. During that time, in addition to the community property owned by the couple, Murphy had separate property that produced income. However, Murphy commingled his separate property in joint checking and savings accounts. There was no evidence that Murphy protected his separate property during his lifetime with appropriate recordkeeping. Further, at all times during their marriage, Murphy and Royene’s community income was sufficient to meet the family’s expenses. Both Murphy and Royene passed away, and Murphy's legatees (plaintiff) brought an action in the trial court to determine the character of certain assets in Murphy's estate. The legatees argued that the assets were purchased with Murphy’s separate property and pointed to the fact that there were separate property funds available to buy the assets at the time of purchase. The trial court held that the legatees had failed to provide evidence that the assets were purchased with the income from Murphy’s separate property and that, therefore, the assets were community property. The legatees appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wright, C.J.)

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