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Couples may want to be well informed when considering divorce

California residents may be interested to learn about a man in another state whose fight for what he believes to be rightfully his continues after his wive’s death. After 13 years of marriage, the couple began considering divorce and started the process in 2012. After active service in Afghanistan and Iraq, the wife suffered from post traumatic stress. With the divorce still pending, she committed suicide in April 2013, bringing about a dispute over property division.

Subsequent to her death, the husband learned that just two months before her death, his wife had removed his name as beneficiary on her life-insurance and retirement policies. The couple’s two daughters were recorded as new beneficiaries, leaving $500,000 to the two teenagers. Furthermore, it was specified that the policy proceeds should go to the woman’s boyfriend in the event that something would happen to the two girls.

The husband filed a motion, claiming that the wife had altered financial details in violation of court orders before committing suicide. The Supreme Court of that state ruled that the death of one party ends an existing divorce case. It was noted that, had the judge been aware of the changes the wife made to her policies prior to her death, she could have been forced to reverse the actions and face possible jail time.

The husband is not going to stop his quest to salvage his rightful share of the assets and is planning an appeal. California couples who are considering divorce may want to ensure that both parties are well-informed regarding the legalities of the process. In this case, the woman’s death denied the man of his rightful share of her assets, a situation that could have been avoided if the couple had obtained the necessary knowledge in advance.

Source: New York Post, "Judge denies man's divorce asset claim a year after wife's suicide", Julia Marsh and Erin Calabrese, May 26, 2014

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