Fields v. Michael
Court of Appeal of California
205 P.2d 402 (1949)
Mrs. Fields (plaintiff) and W.C. Fields were married from 1900 until his death in 1946. All of the assets owned by Mr. Fields from 1900 onward were acquired during the marriage and were community- property assets. Although Mr. Fields had deserted Mrs. Fields several years into their marriage and did not share information with her regarding his financial affairs or any gifts, the parties remained legally married until Mr. Fields’s death. After Mr. Fields’s death, Ms. Michael (defendant) was qualified as the executrix of his estate. Mrs. Fields filed a claim against her husband’s estate seeking to recover one-half of the value of various gifts and transfers Mr. Fields had made during his lifetime to 10 known and six unknown recipients at a total value of $482,450.00. The claim was denied. Mrs. Fields then filed this claim against the estate, stating that, because the recipients of the lifetime gifts by Mr. Fields had either spent the money or had disappeared, the estate was the only source from which Mrs. Fields could recover the $241,225.00, which amounted to her one-half interest in the unauthorized gifts made by Mr. Fields during their marriage.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Shinn, J.)
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