POHNPEI LAW REPORTS
VOL. 3[3 PN.L.R. 50]
IN THE MATTER OF THE
ESTATE OF ESTEPAN ELIAS,
Pohnpei Civil Action No. 208-87
Trial Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court
March 2, 1988
Petition by surviving spouse of intestate for the appointment of administratrix and distribution of the estate of the intestate. The deceased was survived by the petitioner and their five children one of whom was born prior to their marriage under custom. The Trial Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court, JUDAH C. JOHNNY, Associate Justice held, appointing the petitioner administratrix of the estate, that (1) the real and personal property of the intestate should devolve in equal, undivided shares to all the living children of the intestate including the child born before the marriage of their parents; (2) the petitioner (living spouse) should receive one-third of all the estate; and (3) by custom the
[3 PN.L.R. 51]
child born before marriage of the parents was legitimized by their subsequent marriage.
1. Intestacy - Distribution of Intestate's Property - Rights of Surviving Children of Intestate
The real and personal property of an intestate shall devolve in equal, undivided shares to all the living children of the intestate, including a child born before the customary marriage of the parents, in equal, undivided shares. (D.L. 4L-155-78, S.3)
2. Intestacy - Distribution of Intestate's Property - Rights of Surviving Spouse of Intestate
The living spouse of an intestate shall receive one-third of all personal property of the intestate, and a life estate in all real property of the intestate. (D.L. 4L-155-78, S.5)
3. Domestic Relations - Custom - Children Born Before Marriage of Parents - Status
It is customarily recognized in Pohnpei that a child may be legitimized by the subsequent customary marriage of the putative father and mother, and the acknowledgment by the man to be the father of the child.
Counsel for Petitioner: Stephen Skipton, Esq.
Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
JUDAH C. JOHNNY, Associate Justice
The petitioner brought this matter seeking a decree of.this Court, distributing the estate of her late husband Estepan Elias who died intestate. I found the following facts from the evidence
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adduced at the hearing:
1. The petitioner and Estepan Elias were married under established Pohnpei custom, and were husband and wife at the time of the death of Estepan Elias on August 27, 1987. Estepan Elias died intestate.
2. Estepan Elias and the petitioner had five children who survived him, namely:
a. Hermyone Elias, born on May 18, 1977;
b. Resdepan Elias, born on September 29, 1979;
c. Prine Elias, born on November 2, 1980;
d. Elperson Elias, born on January 2,1982; and
e. Ermihna Elias, born on November 13, 1985.
3. The known estate of the deceased includes the following:
a. Judgment in Pohnpei Civil Action No.68-87;
b. An Account at the Bank of Guam;
c. Accrued wages from employment with Pohnpei State.
4. All credit purchases and obligations of the deceased have been paid off.
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5. The petitioner is fit and proper to be appointed administratrix of the estate of the deceased for her benefit and that of the children.
6. While child Hermyone was born prior to the marriage of Estepan to the petitioner, Estepan has publicly claimed her to be his own child under recognized Pohnpei custom.
[1-2] The relief sought by the petitioner comes within the rules of P.L. No. 4L-155-78, the Intestate Succession Act of 1977. Specifically, Section 3 provides,
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 living member at the time of death of the intestate...
“The classes of intestate succession are as follows:
To the children of the intestate;
If there be none, to the parents of the intestate;
If there be none, to the grandparents of the intestate;
If there be none, to the great grandparents of the intestate;
and so forth . . .”
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Section 5 further provides in part,
". . . the living spouse of the intestate shall receive one-third of all personal property of the intestate, and a life estate in all real property of the intestate. . ."
 With these specifications in consideration, it is clear that except as to the status of Hermyone, all who are named above stand in first class of distribution. As for Hermyone, it is clear that no law in this State governs the legitimation of children who are born out of wedlock. We have however said that while there is no statutory rule on legitimation of children, it is customarily recognized in this State that a child may be legitimatized by the subsequent marriage of the putative father to the mother of the child, and the acknowledgment by the man, the child to be his child. See In the Matter of Olson Saimon PCA No.155-86. Also see Moses v. Moses, 3 T.T. R. 187 and Sehpin v. Atta, 4 T.T. R.34. I hold therefore that Hermyone is a legitimate child of Estepan Elias.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED and DECREED:
1. The estate of Estepan Elias is distributed to all children heirs as named in this action.
2. The petitioner has a share of one-third of all the estate:
3. The petitioner is appointed administratrix of the estate for the benefit of the children named above.