Harris v. Harris
Supreme Court of California
369 P.2d 481 (1962)
Susie Harris and Marshall Harris were married when Susie made a valid, enforceable will providing that if she survived Marshall, at her death, all of her property would go to her son, Mr. Harris (plaintiff). Subsequently, Susie became incompetent, and Marshall was appointed her guardian. Over the next nine years, Marshall made significant gifts of community property to other individuals (defendants), totaling $29,543.76. During that time, Susie was unable to consent to these gifts due to her incompetency, and Marshall did not receive court permission to make such gifts. On March 26, 1957, Marshall resigned the guardianship position, which his son then assumed. Susie passed away on September 25, 1957, and Marshall subsequently passed away on December 10, 1957. Following the death of Susie and Marshall, their son Mr. Harris qualified as the executor of Susie’s estate and brought a claim against the recipients of Marshall’s unauthorized gifts for Susie's one-half interest in those gifts under California Civil Code § 172. The trial court found that Mr. Harris had the right as Susie's executor to bring an action for Susie's one-half ownership interest in the value of the unauthorized gifts. The gifts’ beneficiaries appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Traynor, J.)
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