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Claiming Your Wife's Inheritance After She's Dead
Old 08-19-2013, 01:30 PM   #1
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Claiming Your Wife's Inheritance After She's Dead

A relative's wife, sadly, passed away earlier this year. Relative was his wife's only heir.

Unfortunately, her mother - his MIL - also died 4 months later (I don't know how big of an estate she left, other than a quite-nice older house that is surely paid for). MIL's heirs are her 2 remaining children, Relative's BIL 1 and BIL 2. My relative promptly filed a "caveat" against the MIL's estate, which is going through Florida probate, for the portion his late wife would have inherited.

This caused BIL 1 to stop speaking to my relative, and BIL 2 isn't feeling the love much either. The rest of us are just shaking our heads.

My questions are: How can Relative and his lawyer even have a case? And what is the right word for Relative's action? "Gutsy" seems tame.

Just wondering what y'all think of this.

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Old 08-19-2013, 01:43 PM   #2
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would seem to me that unless MIL's will specifically named relative's wife AND her heirs then relative has no shot. But I'm not a lawyer and the legal system works in weird and mysterious ways.

"Ballsy" might be more appropriate than "Gutsy".
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:47 PM   #3
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"No class" is the term that immediately comes to mind.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post

Just wondering what y'all think of this.

Amethyst
Sad is the thought that comes to mind. The next is proper estste planning.

Very sorry to hear this.

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Old 08-19-2013, 02:10 PM   #5
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I believe the word is "chutzpah."

The classic example is the child who killed both his parents, then pleaded for mercy from the court because he was an orphan.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:12 PM   #6
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If the will is properly drawn up and if those are the terms it seems obvious that Relative will inherit nothing.

It's unfortunate that relatives sometimes have a false sense of entitlement. Greed is the word I would use. I recall a similar situation in my own extended family. A husband died and left the majority of his estate to his wife (and some to his siblings). There were no children. When she died, her will left some of her money to her family and most to fund a library. His greedy siblings contested the will. The lawyers quite rightly sent a rebuttal letter indicating that the bequest was none of their business, and that was the end of the matter.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:36 PM   #7
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Does the relative have any kids? Maybe he feels like the money will/should indirectly and eventually pass through his generation to all of the grandkids. I don't think I'd really have a problem if a similar situation happened with one of my BILs or SILs. My parents are pretty close to their kids spouses so they might want this, though I don't know what their will says. Their estate won't be very big and I don't need it, certainly not the difference between 1/5 and 1/4 if a sibling dies, so it's pretty easy for me to say this.

Had my ex- died before her wealthier parents died (which they both did in the last 5-10 years), I might've asked for our son to get a share. If I had been widowed instead of divorced, and with less money...nah, probably just the same. I wouldn't have turned down a share but I don't think I'd have filed for it for myself.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:23 PM   #8
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I believe the word is "chutzpah."
Exactly. And if MIL had a will specifying "who gets what" then he has virtually no chance. If there was no will he might have a shot at it.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:25 PM   #9
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He doesn't't have kids. I don't know anything about the will, yet if he could be considered a "follow-on" beneficiary, there'd be no need to file a caveat, correct?

A.


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Does the relative have any kids? Maybe he feels like the money will/should indirectly and eventually pass through his generation to all of the grandkids. I don't think I'd really have a problem if a similar situation happened with one of my BILs or SILs. My parents are pretty close to their kids spouses so they might want this, though I don't know what their will says. Their estate won't be very big and I don't need it, certainly not the difference between 1/5 and 1/4 if a sibling dies, so it's pretty easy for me to say this.

Had my ex- died before her wealthier parents died (which they both did in the last 5-10 years), I might've asked for our son to get a share. If I had been widowed instead of divorced, and with less money...nah, probably just the same. I wouldn't have turned down a share but I don't think I'd have filed for it for myself.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:09 PM   #10
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He doesn't't have kids. I don't know anything about the will, yet if he could be considered a "follow-on" beneficiary, there'd be no need to file a caveat, correct?

A.
I don't know much about wills, but that sounds right. He's probably alienated himself for no gain.
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:28 PM   #11
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I'm not so sure. It seems to me that it would not be unlikely that MIL's will might leave MIL's estate to her children and might not specify her living/surviving children. If so, then relative might have a claim on MIL's estate since relative was relative wife's sole heir.

Now if MIL's will specifies that her heirs are her surviving children then it would seem that relative is out of luck.

While a bold move by relative, not necessarily a foolish one unless he cares what the BILs think (whcih presumably he doesn't).
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:45 PM   #12
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"Greedy" is the term that comes to my mind.

People often get greedy when there is an inheritance at stake. I went through something like that a year ago, but fortunately my family members refrained from being greedy little dinks about it. Sounds like this guy couldn't resist trying to grab some cash in his dead wife's name. Classy.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
A relative's wife, sadly, passed away earlier this year. Relative was his wife's only heir.

Unfortunately, her mother - his MIL - also died 4 months later (I don't know how big of an estate she left, other than a quite-nice older house that is surely paid for). MIL's heirs are her 2 remaining children, Relative's BIL 1 and BIL 2. My relative promptly filed a "caveat" against the MIL's estate, which is going through Florida probate, for the portion his late wife would have inherited.

This caused BIL 1 to stop speaking to my relative, and BIL 2 isn't feeling the love much either. The rest of us are just shaking our heads.

My questions are: How can Relative and his lawyer even have a case? And what is the right word for Relative's action? "Gutsy" seems tame.
While I would say that it might appear ___________ (fill in a variety of the adjectives used by the forum members ), in all honesty, your relative may have a case!

For instance, my grandmother's trust (which I helped advise her on/oversee the lawyer) was written up as a standard revocable living trust.

In a RLT, you are free to specify how inheritances are handled if an heir predeceases the trust grantor (person creating the trust). And it isn't uncommon to specify that if an heir should die before the trust owner, then that heir's share would then be given to that heir's heir (spouse and/or children), before then reverting to other primary heirs.

So, perhaps your relative knew of a provision in the will/trust of his MIL that specified that if an heir should predecease the MIL, then that heir's share would not get divided up among the other primary heirs, but would instead be dispersed among the heir's heirs (i.e. your relative).

Even though you mention the estate is going through probate (which implies that at least some assets were not in a RLT, but could still be governed by a will), there is a chance - if he had knowledge of the will - that there may be provisions for him to legally inherit.

However, here's a link that speaks a bit about Florida estate law when an heir predeceases the original grantor:

What Happens if Someone Named in a Will Dies Before the Testator? The Concept of Lapse | Fortenberry Legal

From that website, it sounds like your relative is SOL, and that the MIL's assets would only be divided among the other surviving children.

The public real estate records should indicate if the house's title was legally owned by the deceased MIL, or perhaps titled in a RLT.
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:09 AM   #14
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Another thing that could play into all this is the dynamics of the relationships.

What if relative and wife (heir) were the only ones that visited, took care of or had the most contact with the MIL? If the BIL's didn't have anything to do with the MIL and are just trying to cash in one what they are "entitled" to, might be a different story.

I know plenty of SIL/DIL's that are closer to their MIL/FIL's than their actual children are. In this case, I would say the relative would be entitled to a fair share of the estate.

Not saying this is the case, but there could be more to it than we know.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:52 AM   #15
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That is one of those things I sure hope I never do. For some reason, your relative feels justified. Who knows what is going on in his head? Probably makes perfect sense to him.



Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him. Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) Swiss theologian and poet.
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:04 AM   #16
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It's a nervy play. But money is good; and relatives can be so-so. Maybe the guy's late wife really didn't care at all for her sibs, maybe the guy making this bid loathed them. Don't remember if the dead woman was a mother, but if so it would be very easy to make a case that her children should not get dis-inherited.

Equally aggro things happen many times every day in "family court" all over this fair land, and between people who allegedly once loved one another. I'm old school enough to not do something this transgressive, but I can see how one might rationalize it pretty well.

Anyway, all he is doing is keeping the ball in play, it will be up The Law to decide if he scores.

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Old 08-20-2013, 09:43 AM   #17
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Another thing that could play into all this is the dynamics of the relationships.

What if relative and wife (heir) were the only ones that visited, took care of or had the most contact with the MIL? If the BIL's didn't have anything to do with the MIL and are just trying to cash in one what they are "entitled" to, might be a different story.

I know plenty of SIL/DIL's that are closer to their MIL/FIL's than their actual children are. In this case, I would say the relative would be entitled to a fair share of the estate.

Not saying this is the case, but there could be more to it than we know.
This is the first thing that came to my mind. I know it's unlikely, but it's possible.

In this case, he may even expect that he doesn't have a legal case, but just wants to irritate the relatives who weren't there when she was alive.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:07 AM   #18
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My parents' wills specifically state that if a child of theirs passes before they pass, neither the child's spouse nor the child's children are entitled to any inheritance. We intend to do the same, except that we will keep it more updated and name specific grandchildren as heirs (or not). We have no grandchildren yet.

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Old 08-20-2013, 10:11 AM   #19
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If I die before my mother, I would expect DW to get half of the money at the time of my mother's death. {thank God the land is already divided} DW is family now. And if my sister died before our mother, her kids and grandkids should get her part.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:24 AM   #20
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I'm not so sure. It seems to me that it would not be unlikely that MIL's will might leave MIL's estate to her children and might not specify her living/surviving children. If so, then relative might have a claim on MIL's estate since relative was relative wife's sole heir.
I don't think this is true. This thread has reminded me to take another look at my beneficiaries and transfer on death plan for my VG taxable account and what happens if any of them pre-decease me so I did some reading last night. One of the things I was reading about was "per stirpes", which basically means that if you leave your assets to your descendents per stirpes, they are divided equally among your children. If one of them has died, their children (your grandchildren by that child) split that share evenly. Nothing went to the child's spouse. If there were no grandchildren on that leaf, the assets are divided among your other children. The exception is if that child died within a very short period of when you died--4 days from what I read, though that may have been for a specific state--then that share does go to the child's estate, which certainly could lead to the spouse getting a share.

A couple hours of googling comes nowhere near the knowledge of an estate attorney but I don't think the OP was looking for us to give legal advice anyway.

One thing this shows is that it's important to keep your will and beneficiaries up to date and try to account for cases like this. And if an heir does die, figure out what will happen and whether that's what you want, and change it if needed. I guess if you really don't care what happens once you die it doesn't matter, but I think most would rather not have our heirs battling over money and not talking to each other.
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