The conflict in the Washington Supreme Court as to priority between contract law and community property law, which resulted in a 5-4 decision in Occidental Life Ins. Co. v. Powers, is still present after 27 years. The contract at issue in the principal case was the General Electric Pension Trust, to which decedent had contributed premiums for 13 1/2 years. During that time decedent had been married three times and divorced twice. Neither divorce decree had disposed of the pension funds, and decedent's second wife was the designated beneficiary at his death. During his third marriage, decedent and his third wife, the plaintiff, entered into a statutory community property agreement which provided that the separate property of each was converted into community property and the survivor would hold title to all community property upon the death of either party.
Washington Case Law,
Community Property—Community Property Agreement—Private Pension Fund—Designated Beneficiary Other Than Surviving Spouse,
40 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol40/iss2/11