A trial is set to get underway soon in which jurors will be asked to decide whether a 74-year-old woman is guilty of using undue influence and fraud to secure funds and assets from her 84-year-old dying husband. The probate lawsuit was filed by some of the 84-year-old man's surviving family members who contend their loved one's second wife took advantage of her husband's diminished health and capacity to transfer and secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.
The couple married in 2006. The marriage was the second for both and both signed a prenuptial agreement in which they agreed to keep the assets they brought to the marriage separate. Family members of the deceased 84-year-old claim that, prior to the marriage, their loved one had roughly $1.5 million. They further assert the man's assets had severely diminished when he died and believe the 74-year-old defendant intentionally took advantage of her husband to secure those assets.
According to the lawsuit, over the course of the couple's marriage, the defendant is accused of transferring $281,000 to her children who live in Ukraine. Additionally, in the days preceding her husband's death, the defendant transferred funds totaling $96,000 from her husband's account into her personal account. Legal records point to problems in the couple's marriage in the months leading up to the man's death. He filed for divorce and the defendant took legal actions to have the couple's prenuptial agreement deemed invalid. She also took steps to create a new will for her dying husband from which she stood to profit handsomely.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs formally accuse the 74-year-old of fraud, undue influence, unjust enrichment, conversion and breach of a prenuptial agreement. This estate dispute is an example of how the actions of a husband or wife prior to the death of his or her spouse may provide just cause for taking legal action.
Source: Macomb Daily, "Macomb Probate Judge gives ‘kind of harsh' opinion in estate dispute," Jameson Cook, March 19, 2014