Washington Law Review


The descent of property to heirs or devisees is a right conferred by society and the statutes governing administration and distribution must, as a general rule, be strictly complied with. The case of the administration of a deceased member of a partnership, however, deals with property which does not belong to the deceased alone, but in which the surviving partners have a common and often equal or superior interest. Furthermore, the obligations incurred by the firm, through its members, bind the members jointly, it being remembered that a partnership is not an entity in the eyes of the law, but a mere aggregation of individuals. Because of this liability of the surviving partners for all of the firm debts, it was held as a matter of right, at common law, that the surviving partners succeeded to the absolute control of partnership property upon the death of one of the partners. It followed, then, that the partnership property of the deceased did not come within the control of the executor or administrator of the deceased's estate, and since he therefore was possessed of no funds with which to meet firm obligations, the remedy of the creditors of the firm was confined to actions against its surviving members. That being true, it was not necessary that such creditors file their claims with the general administrator of the deceased's estate. Nor need they file them with the surviving partner, for he is presumed to be familiar with all the details of the business, including knowledge as to who are its creditors. The question we meet, then, is: How far do our statutes on this subject supersede or displace the common law?

First Page