VOL. 1
[1 P. S. Ct. R 156]



Pohnpei Civil Action No. 15-85

Trial Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court

March 25, 1985

     Petition by surviving wife of decedent for the posthumous judicial confirmation c Pohnpeian customary marriage to decedent and for the appointment of petitioner a administratrix of the decedent's estate. The Trial Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court EDWEL H. SANTOS, Chief Justice, granting the petition, held that the marriage effects between the petitioner and the decedent under Pohnpeian custom was valid under th law of Pohnpei State. The Court confirmed the marriage and appointed petitions administratrix.

1.      Domestic Relations - Customary Marriage Contracts - Trust Territory Citizens
A marriage contract between parties, both of whom are citizens of the Trust Territory, solemnized in accordance with recognized custom shall be valid. (39 TTC 55).

2.      Domestic Relations - Customary Marriage Contract - Trust Territory Citizens Resident in Pohnpei - Confirmation
The Court will confirm a valid customary marriage contract between Try Territory Citizens resident in Pohnpei.

3.      Intestacy - Distribution of Intestate's Property - Governing Law
The settlement and distribution of the estate of a person who died intestate on December 3,1984, is controlled by Pohnpei State Law 4L-55-78 as H as the custom of the area where the property is located.

[1 P. S. Ct. R 157]

Counsel for Petitioner:           Delson Ehmes

EDWEL H. SANTOS, Chief Justice
     This is a probate matter. Sworn petition for settlement of estate was filed in this Court by petitioner on February 4, 1985, public notice of same was posted the same date. Said petition enumerates and the Court after hearing on March 26,1985, in open court found the following:

1.      Decedent Toped Ezikiel and petitioner, both of Ponape, residents of Sokehs, were married in the middle of 1964 under local custom. Said marriage persisted until the decedent died on December 3,1984. Decedent died without leaving a will.

2.      Decedent was survived by the petitioner, five (5) children of the marriage, and one (1) adopted daughter, all of whose names are listed under paragraph 5 and a brother and a sister named under paragraph 6 of the said petition.

3.      Decedent left behind certain properties, real and personal, as

[1 P. S. Ct. R 158]

enumerated under paragraph 7 and 8 of the petition. Petitioner requests the Court to confirm the marriage status of the decedent and the petitioner as being effected under Pohnpeian custom and to appoint the petitioner as administratix of the decedent's estate.

     [1 ] Trust Territory statute found in the Trust Territory Code dealing with probate and domestic relations matters, inasmuch the subjects are expressly within the State powers under the FS Constitution (Art. 8 Sec. 2) are laws of this State. Marriage contracts between parties, both of whom are citizens of the Trust Territory solemnized in accordance with recognized custom sh; be valid. 39 T.T.C. 55.

     [2-3] Petitioner and the decedent are both citizens of the Trust Territory and legal residents of Pohnpei. Hence their marriage was valid and this Court confirms that marriage. Settlement and distribution of the estate of a person who died intestate controlled by Pohnpei State Law 4L-55-78 as well as the custom the area wherein the property is located. Section 3 of 4L-55reads in part:

[1 P. S. Ct. R 159]

"The real and personal property of an intestate shall devolve in equal, undivided shares to all members of the first class enumerated in this Section in which there is at least one (1) living member at the time of the death of the intestate.."

     Section 5 of said law grants 1/3 of all personal property and a life estate interest in all real property of the intestate to the surviving spouse.

     Accordingly; it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED as follows:
1.      The marriage effected in 1964 by and between the petitioner Aspelihna and the deceased Toped Ezikiel, under Ponapean custom, is valid under the law of this State and is confirmed by this Court. Petitioner Aspelihna, for all purposes, is a surviving spouse of the decedent, Toped Ezikiel.

2.      Aspelihna Ezikiel is hereby appointed the administratrix of the estate of Toped Ezikiel deceased.

[1 P. S. Ct. R 160]

3.      As administratrix, Aspelihna is empowered to administer, supervise, distribute the assets of the estate pursuant to 4L 55-78 and in accordance with the customs attributable to such property of the estate, and to settle all claims against the estate as far as the assets of the estate permit.

     So Ordered this 26th day of March, 1985.
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