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A woman, with no usable skills and no income, marries a well to do widower. He has grown children who, in turn, have their own families that increase in size every couple of years.
The new couple buys a condo on UWS, both names on the deed. He's retired, with multiple grandchildren. She gets yearly (!) allowance in cash, has no personal bank accounts/credit card, and no say in financial decisions.
Then he drops dead. The will is read: the condo is hers but not much else. The money goes to the heirs.
And now the heirs sue the widow for half of the condo. Their argument: she brought absolutely nothing to the marriage, never wrote a check in her life, hates them, obsessive shopper, etc.
Do the heirs a chance?
Hey a hooker gets paid too. This one was smart! Got a deed in her name! Hope she was hot!
Heirs got no chance. If daddy blew inheritance on crack could they sue the crack dealer? Fk the heirs. Make their own money. Hey w81 how's it going?
The widow should sue the heirs for half the money using a similar argument... What have the heirs done for the widower? The heirs should respect the widower's will.
This is a common one.
The condo isn't part of the estate, and devising it to her by will had no effect. It was held jointly, and became her property the instant he kicked.
Under NYS law, the surviving spouse has "right of election" to one-third of the net estate, no matter what the will says.
So, she'll have the condo, and the surrogate's court will award her one-third of the rest.
All bets are off if the spouses had a valid pre- or ante-nuptial agreement. Then that would determine the outcome, unless either side can prove their party was an idiot, unrepresented by counsel, etc. when making the agreement.
The heirs have no chance. Whether they are even worse off than what might appear depends upon too many things, including what state law applies, what kind of prenups may exist, how the joint ownership is structured, etc. The surviving spouse may be entitled to a statutory elective share of the estate even if left with nothing under the will, and in many states property passing to a spouse through a tenancy by the entirety is not counted when measuring the elective share.
NWT, from what I know of the story, the widower literally gave cash to all of the heirs prior to his demise, so not much cash was left. His holdings are in some kind of RE, and have his eldest heir as partner. Also, the now-widow is absolutely, totally inept and has no idea even who his attorneys or finance people are.
First of all, she and his kids are all heirs. Her personal characteristics have nothing to do with it.
She needs a lawyer to represent her when the surrogate's court determines the estate's assets. The partnership may or may not be part of the estate.
nyc_sport, does that sound right? I'm not up on the details.
Beneficiaries, not heirs.
"Distributees" would be the term. Spouse and kids are distributees of the estate, even if not mentioned in the will. What they get is another story.
The cash gifts to the kids could be interesting. If done close enough to the death, could be considered part of the estate.
Can I see pictures of the people in question, including the deceased? Then I'll pass judgment.
NWT is correct, and the widow needs a lawyer and fast (and, to be clear, I am not an trust and estate lawyer). The "estate" of the deceased does not matter what form the assets were in -- there are limited situations that assets can pass without going through the estate (Uncle Sam wants his cut). The cash gifts may well have consequences in terms of estate itself and individual heir's entitlements. But the deceased's partnership interests have value and absent some irrevocable trust are part of the estate irrespective of the fact that the kids are the other partners, and the spouse may have a statutory right to a portion of them barring any enforceable agreements to the contrary.
NWT, she says he sat up bank accounts for the grand/children where he gradually put in a lot of money. Also, there could be a trust or two. I passed to her the names of a lawyer or two.
Speaking of the "right of election" of the 1/3: my co-worker (male) somehow got destroyed by his dead wife's children. I don't know the details but do know that he was fighting tooth and nail for years and still had to sell his condo and split the money with them.
SAT up - really.. Should be SET.
NWT, you said, "it's a common one." Does it mean that despite the law heavily favoring the surviving spouse, law suits brought by the children of the deceased are still common?
We'll never know. One party's telling of the story isn't worth much. His condo might've gone to pay the lawyers. I'm all for keeping the profession fully employed, but very often the parties won't listen to reason, and drag things out forever when they'd have been wiser to just sit down with a mediator and come to an agreement.
No, I just meant that surviving second spouses and step-children often have issues that come out in this kind of wrangle. It's tough to keep everybody happy.
I wouldn't call a lousy one-third "heavily favoring". Maybe slightly favoring, in that disinheriting a spouse has to be carefully done, while disinheriting a kid is pretty easy.
NWT, I wish I could have a drink with you.
I'm forwarding the link to this thread to her.