In re Estate of Allen

166 Cal. Rptr. 653 (1980)

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In re Estate of Allen

California Court of Appeal
166 Cal. Rptr. 653 (1980)

Facts

Orpha Allen and Herbert Allen (plaintiff) had been married for 36 years when Orpha passed away. At the time of Orpha’s death, Herbert was receiving a pension from his previous employer. During Herbert’s employment, Herbert elected to receive $515.46 per month after retirement until his death. If Herbert predeceased his wife, Orpha would receive $344.48 per month until her death. The Allens chose this retirement package instead of a package that granted the Allens a greater monthly benefit that would not have survived Herbert’s death. After Orpha’s death, Herbert petitioned the superior court to determine the couple’s community property because a California statute required that a deceased spouse’s community-property interest be taxed. The inheritance-tax referee determined that Orpha’s community-property interest in Herbert’s pension had passed to Herbert upon Orpha’s death, and this portion was therefore assessed a tax. Herbert objected, and the superior court determined that Orpha’s community-property interest in the pension terminated at Orpha’s death. The court thus removed Herbert’s interest in the pension from the list of the estate’s taxable assets. California State Controller Kenneth Cory (defendant) appealed to the California Court of Appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dearman, J.)

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