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GOWER ESTATE (12/20/71)

decided: December 20, 1971.

GOWER ESTATE


Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, No. 7834 of 1962, in re estate of Ada Gower; appeal of William C. Gulick.

COUNSEL

Ronald J. Mishkin, with him Russell L. Mervine, and Mervine, Brown & Newman, for appellant.

John A. Hiscott, with him Shull, Kitson & Lee, and Williams & Williams, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 445 Pa. Page 555]

On November 27, 1962 William Gulick, appellant, filed an election to take against the will of Ada Gower (Gulick), deceased, claiming as decedent's surviving spouse. On January 8, 1963, he filed a claim for the family exemption. The auditor appointed by the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Orphans' Court Division, recommended that appellant's claims be denied. The lower court confirmed the auditor's recommendation. Appellant filed exceptions to the auditor's report on June 30, 1964 which were denied by the lower court on March 20, 1970. This appeal followed.

The record reveals that appellant and Ada Gower began living together in 1930. At that time Ada Gower was married to one Arthur Wilson Gower. The Gowers were divorced in 1932. Appellant and Ada Gower continued living together until her death in 1962. On May 29, 1942 they both appeared before the Selective Service Board at Easton and signed and swore to the following:

"May 25, 1942

"For the purpose of establishing marriage status for consideration of Selective Service Board No. 1 and thereby request and secure deferred classification based

[ 445 Pa. Page 556]

    on a claim for dependents in order to avoid conscription for military service, I, William Charles Gulick, hereby say and declare that I consider and regard Ada Gower Gulick, nee Ada Gower, as my wife and as such I have heretofore, likewise do now, and will forever hereafter, assume all of her living expenses and provide her with the necessities of life, as well as endow her with full rights and all privileges of a wife, together with a wife's legal right to, and interest in, whatsoever property I am now possessed of or should hereafter acquire.

"Be it known, and I hereby further declare that I have always regarded Ada Gower Gulick (Ada Gower), as my (common-law) wife ever since and during our entire co-habitation began in 1930 and which has continued without interruption to date, pursuant to an understanding by and between us that we are in all respects to be husband and wife. . . .

"I, Ada Gower Gulick, nee Ada Gower, have read the declaration and statements of my husband, William Charles Gulick, as herein contained, which are made for the purpose of establishing marriage status before, and for the consideration of, the Selective Service Board, and I hereby ...


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