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Husband, woman's family pulling in opposite directions over estate

His side of the story: He was living in a trailer park when a widow asked him to move in with her and help manage her property. The woman later repeatedly asked him to marry her. He declined until she'd been incapacitated by strokes.

Her family's side of the story: He's an abusive man who took advantage of their loved one who had been rendered incompetent by health problems.

At stake is the decedent's $450,000 estate.

While this dispute is far from Lee County, it raises estate administration and estate planning issues many readers will find relevant.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to soon hear arguments in the case involving an estate that included 25 acres of land.

The family of the woman -- her stepchildren and sister -- hopes to have the marriage annulled.

They say while she was competent, their loved one would have never given the man who wheeled out of a nursing home for a wedding all her property.

A county probate judge there has already ruled that the marriage can't be annulled after the death of one of the spouses.

The family argues that the marriage was never a valid one; that the woman didn't have the intellectual capacity to consent to the wedding.

The family is suing the man for interference with an inheritance. They're also asking that a trust be created for the estate.

He has filed counterclaims, arguing that he'd been defamed by the family, among other charges.

"This has caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety," he told a newspaper. "It has really changed me. I feel weakened, knocked down."

He said the charges of abuse against him are false and that he loved his wife "dearly."

"I don't want to be seen as a dirtbag to society," he added.

These kinds of legal disputes have significant emotional and financial consequences for the parties involved, which is why it's so important that they have the guidance of an experienced probate attorney who can help them understand their legal options.

Source: jsonline, "High Court takes case rising from estate fight, marriage validity," Bruce Vielmetti, Nov.2, 2012

  • Our Lee County firm handles similar probate matters. Please visit our Fort Myers probate page for more information.

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