Law News and Tips


Fred Vilbig - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sylvia (not her real name) had been married for years to Dave, and they had four kids together. As happens many times, Dave predeceased Sylvia. Sylvia was fairly young, and over time, she got lonely.

Sylvia met Louie at a seniors’ event at their church. Louie was also a widower. They enjoyed each other’s company and started spending time together. They were sort of old-fashioned, so they ended up getting married. Not a bad thing really.

Sometime after that, Sylvia got sick. Louie nursed her all during her illness, but in the end, she died. Louie had loved Sylvia, and after losing his second wife, he was brokenhearted. He didn’t live that much longer himself.

After the funeral, Sylvia’s kids started asking about the estate only to come to a rude awakening. You see, Sylvia and Dave had executed wills when their kids were younger, but they had never done anything else. After Dave’s death, when Sylvia married Louie, she put her assets in joint names with him. This all seems very innocent.

The problem is that with joint property, on the death of the first joint owner, the asset belongs entirely to the surviving joint owner. When Sylvia died, everything went over completely to Louie. Louie probably didn’t have a plan, but even if he did, it certainly didn’t take Sylvia’s kids into account.

So in the end, Dave and Sylvia’s kids ended up with nothing. That’s probably not what anyone really wanted, particularly not the kids. A little planning would’ve gone a long way.
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