16 Jul Petition for Elective Share of Secret Spouse’s Estate Forfeited for Duplicitous Conduct
Decedent’s wife sought a determination she was entitled to an elective share of her husband’s estate. Decedent’s sons took the position that the marriage was the product of undue influence as decedent lacked capacity. The wife was hired by 91-year old decedent in 1997 to be his live-in caretaker, they married in 2005 one year before the decedent died. Acting Kings County Surrogate John Ingram found after a non-jury trial evidence decedent suffered from physical and mental impairments finding it impossible to believe the wife was unaware of his mental incapacity as his primary caretaker. The Court noted the marriage was kept secret until after his death It ruled through her wrongdoing the wife forfeited her right to take an elective share of decedent’s estate as his surviving spouse. Caretakers for the elderly often become estate beneficiaries and in this case the decedent’s wife. These late in life changes in testamentary plans benefiting the health care workers are often viewed with great skepticism by the Courts.
Matter of Estate of Berk