Eva Pulley, the plaintiff, and her husband, Orrin Pulley, were married for 17 years before he died. He owned three pieces of real estate and $26,000 of cash. He asked his wife to divide the cash up among his children when he died, which she did. She claimed the properties, which were not worth $50,000 when totaled together. Some of the children tried to claim against her for the land. She petitioned the court to state that the land was hers under either intestate succession or the Matrimonial Property Act.
- Do the wishes of the deceased or intestate succession/the Matrimonial Property Act take priority?
Judgement for the plaintiff.
Haliburton states that the total amount of matrimonial assets were worth $102,000. He says that upon the death of a spouse, the other spouse is entitled to make a claim under the Matrimonial Property Act for their 50% share and then to claim under intestate succession for more of the assets. All that was left of her husband's estate after the division was $51,000; however, money had to be used to pay for the funeral costs, leaving only $45,600. Under intestate succession, the wife is entitled to the first $50,000 of his estate – hence, the entire estate. Haliburton finds that she was not required to distribute the cash to the children, as it was in fact hers under intestate succession.
When one spouse dies, the other spouse can claim under the Matrimonial Property Act for their 50% of the matrimonial assets, and then they can claim under intestate succession for more assets from the deceased spouse's estate if there was not a will.