In re Estate of Martineau
126 N.H. 250, 490 A.2d 779 (1985)
Martineau died leaving no will
(intestate). There was no living
spouse, children (issue),
parents, or siblings.
Surviving relatives included
an uncle and a bunch of cousins from various deceased uncles/aunts.
The Trial Court looked to New
Hampshire State law to divvy up the estate.
50% went to the maternal relatives,
and 50% went to the paternal relatives
On the maternal side, there
were no surviving aunts/uncles, so all the cousins on that side split
their 50% equally.
On the paternal side, the
court gave equal shares of the 50% to the surviving uncle and each of the
cousins from dead (aka predeceased)
uncles and aunts.
aka the per capita approach.
The uncle appealed the
decision, claiming that he had batter right to the paternal 50% than the
The uncle argued that
cousins have no right to take a share via their representation of their predeceased parents, so the only person who should get a
share was the surviving uncle.
Basically, the uncle was
arguing that the Court should use the next of kin approach, and that the shares to his siblings
had lapsed due to their
The New Hampshire Supreme
The uncle had argued that
there were some inconsistencies in New Hampshire State law regarding the
right to people to inherit by representation. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed that
there were inconsistencies, but felt that the cousins could inherit via representation despite those inconsistencies.