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Sons sue their deceased father's wife over marital property

A Macomb County Probate Court is currently hearing arguments in a case where a 74-year-old woman is being sued for $545,000 amid allegations of civil fraud, unjust enrichment, undue influence and conversion. The plaintiffs in the case are two sons of a deceased man who married the woman in 2006 and died in 2011 at 83 years old.

Through their attorney, the plaintiffs argued that although their father married the woman, who is originally from Ukraine, he exercised sound judgment by establishing a prenuptial agreement prior to the union which would keep their assets separate. According to the plaintiffs, the defendant has since violated that agreement by transferring over $340,000 of their father's money to her own children who are still living in Ukraine.

The plaintiffs contend that their father was a thoughtful, frugal man who went to extremes to save money and would never have authorized such a transfer to people he had only met for a short while three years prior to his death.

In a strange turn of events, the decedent revoked the prenuptial agreement just three months prior to his death and divided his assets and marital property three ways between his two sons and his wife. Perhaps one of the most interesting facts in the case is that the defendant's own attorney admitted that the decedent filed for divorce from the defendant just two weeks prior to his death.

Probate courts can be one of the most expensive processes for survivors after a family member dies. As this case illustrates, having a will and other martial separation agreements in place is not necessarily always enough to fend off challenges to the estate of your loved ones. Persons who find themselves in similar situations need to be aware that they can prevail on the courts to help them enforce the distribution of those assets in keeping with the wishes of the departed.

Source: The Daily Tribune News, "Attorney defends Warren woman in Macomb estate battle" Jameson Cook, Mar. 24, 2014

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