Fuimaono; In re Estate of

Series: 7ASR2d | Year: 1988 | 7ASR2d142
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In re Estate of GALU VALA FUlMAONO


High Court of American Samoa
Trial Division

PR No.24-88

June 9, 1988


Territorial statute providing for transfer of small estates to persons entitled thereto without letters [7ASR2d143] of administration was inapplicable to estate with assets in excess of $10,000. A.S.C.A. § 40.0334.

When petitioner had secured the transfer of contents of a safe deposit box belonging to decedent by attesting that the assets in decedent’s estate had a total value of less than $10,000, and safe deposit box was subsequently discovered to contain assets whose value was greater than $10,000, the assets could not be distributed or retained by the petitioner without the issuance of letters of administration for decedent’s estate. A.S.C.A. § 40.0334.

Before REES, Chief Justice.

Counsel: For Petitioner, Charles Ala’ilima

Petitioner Yvonne Fuimaono, the widow of the deceased, petitioned the Court for transfer of his assets to her in accordance with the provisions of A.S.C.A. § 40.0334. It is an essential prerequisite to the procedure provided in that section that the total assets of the deceased be valued at less than $10,000, and petitioner Fuimaono so attested in her petition.

The inventory of the contents of a safety deposit box held by the deceased clearly reveals that his assets include at least $10,838 in cash. Since our order that the assets of the deceased be transferred to petitioner Fuimaono was based on the erroneous assumption that the assets were less than $10,000, the order is hereby rescinded. The assets belong to the estate of Galu Fuimaono and the law prohibits their disposition except in connection with the lawful administration of the estate. They should be deposited immediately with the Clerk of the Court, where they will be held until the petitioner or someone else can be appointed administrator of the estate.

It is so ordered.