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Man seeks continuation of divorce after wife dies; request denied

Can you divorce someone after they die? It seems like an odd question for the average Michigan resident, but one New York man thought it was a valid concern. That man apparently attempted to continue his divorce case after his estranged wife committed suicide. The reason: She had taken him off of the beneficiary list for her life insurance and retirement accounts two months before her death.

Official reports show that divorce action was still pending in the case when the woman took her own life. Now, the man will not be the recipient of her $500,000 legacy; instead, that windfall goes to their 10- and 13-year-old girls. The man was looking to have that money reinstated, arguing that the woman's move was underhanded and against the law.

The New York Supreme Court had other thoughts, however. Although the woman apparently violated some terms of the divorce by moving her assets around to prevent her husband from recovering the money, there is no way to remedy this situation. Legal precedent has been well established in this matter; divorce proceedings are done when one person dies.

The man could have had some kind of recourse before the woman's death, but he will not have relief after the fact. It appears that the man could have legally forced her into moving the funds back before she died, assuming that he noticed what was happening. The woman apparently took the action before taking her own life because she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder; she had served three tours in overseas conflicts.

This case shows an interesting side of divorce law that we might not always consider. It is important to make sure that you are vigilant during your breakup to ensure that divorce legal issues like this one do not arise. Paying close attention to the financial aspect of a divorce can help prevent this type of incident from occurring.

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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