Complex Estate & Family Law Litigation Finally Resolved Through Settlement

Martin Colin, P.C. announces the settlement of a very lengthy and complex lawsuit with overlapping estate litigation and family law issues.  The lawsuit was commenced in 2008 and finally settled in 2013.   This post consists of two parts.  The first part, set forth below, outlines the relevant facts.  The second part will discuss the court’s ruling on the summary judgment motions that brought about the settlement.iStock_000002125473_Medium (640x426)

Here are the material facts.

At the time of the divorce from his second wife, the Husband agreed:

  • To continue paying for $150,000 in life insurance coverage on his life until she turns 65;
  • To permit the wife to take over the life insurance when she turns 65;
  • To pay off college loans of first three children, and to discuss whether he should pay the fourth;
  • To pay child support, including unreimbursed medical expenses and summer camp expenses;
  • That these obligations can be enforced against his estate.

Now, at the time of his death:

  • The husband was married to his third wife;
  • The husband had only $100,000 in life insurance, and approximately $70,000 annuity;
  • The second wife was beneficiary of the $100,000 life insurance;
  • The third wife was beneficiary of the $70,000 annuity;
  • The husband was still paying off college for the first three (they had graduated)
  • The fourth child had started college, but the husband had not contributed anything.

Finally, here is what happened, by operation of law, at the moment of his death:

  • The life insurance passed to the designated beneficiary outside of the estate;
  • The annuity passed to the designated beneficiary outside of the estate;
  • The husband’s death ended his obligation, going forward, to pay child support.
  • The husband’s death ended his obligation, going forward, to pay spousal support.

Now, the lawsuit started in 2008, underwent 5 judge changes, and finally resolved in 2013.  What took so long?  Here’s the challenge: the second wife contended throughout this litigation that she was entitled to more than $160,000 from both the third wife and the estate.  The third wife contended throughout this litigation that she owned nothing, and the estate owed approximately $25,000.  Now, one more important fact for you to know:  the estate had approximately $75,000 in assets, but after expenses that, based on priority in the law, get paid first, the estate had approximately $25,000 in assets.

Our attorneys are experienced in estate litigation.  In addition, we are successful matrimonial lawyers. Resolving this case involved a complex interplay between estate law, domestic relations law and contract law.  Follow this article for the second post to learn how a very intelligent and hard-working judge finally brought this case to a resolution.

To be continued….

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