In the wake of a loved one’s death, numerous matters related to the estate of the deceased must be addressed. As relatives and close friends mourn their loss, emotions often run high. In some cases, as details related to an individual’s estate or will are revealed loved ones may question certain aspects of a will or other matters that affect the inheritance of assets or belongings.
Family members of a woman, who died in 2009 at the age of 62, recently chose to settle lawsuits in which numerous accusations were made against her husband. According to court documents the defendant was accused of using undue influence and coercion to secure the woman’s assets and estate.
The deceased suffered a serious stroke in 2008 which left her officially incapacitated. Subsequently, the woman was moved to a nursing home and her cousin became her health care power of attorney. That same year, the defendant is accused of taking the deceased out of the nursing home and marrying her.
Months later when the woman died, her family learned of the marriage and that their loved one had no will. By law, the woman’s $450,000 estate was to pass to her husband. The woman’s family, however, filed a probate and civil lawsuit in which they accused the defendant of taking advantage of their loved one and marrying her solely for financial gain. In response, the defendant filed a counter lawsuit in which he accused the plaintiffs of defamation and conspiracy.
Both sides recently agreed to settle the lawsuits and both walked away with assets from the 62-year-old’s estate. As part of the settlement relatives will be allowed to keep the woman’s home as well as 25 acres of land while her 59-year-old husband will receive liquid assets and cash.
This case proves how complex and contentious estate disputes can become. When possible it’s best to resolve issues that may lead to these types of disputes prior to a loved one’s death. Thankfully, legal remedies exist after a loved one passes that can help ensure their wishes are respected and carried out.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Widower, late wife’s relatives settle case that tried to void marriage,” Bruce Vielmetti, March, 10, 2014