Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 8, 2005 / 3 Av, 5765

How can I undo my late dad's ‘marriage’?

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: After my mother died four years ago, Dad was just not the same person. He lived alone, becoming almost hermit-like. My brother and sisters all agreed that he seemed to be slipping mentally, but we couldn't get him to a doctor. His neighbors expressed concern, and some even took him meals every now and then.

That's why we were shocked to learn from his next-door neighbor that a young woman had moved in with him. When we went to visit Dad, she answered for him and told us that they had married. She is about half his age (he is 82 and she is 45). Then, according to the neighbors, two males moved in with Dad, supposedly her children.

From the time this woman came on the scene, it was never convenient for any of us to visit Dad. It was like he was held hostage. We went to a lawyer and began a guardianship suit, and finally my brother was appointed. By then, Dad was in very bad shape physically and mentally. He had lost more than 50 pounds, and we had to put him in a nursing home. At the lawyer's suggestion, my brother sued to void this "marriage" because the doctors who were treating Dad told us that his condition was so bad that he could not have understood what he was doing when he got married. The doctors also said that he couldn't sign a power of attorney or will. Dad died in early July. A will he signed last December leaves everything to his "wife" and her children, and excludes all of us. Can we stop her from getting his property?

A: First of all, whether a marriage is legal is a question that, in some circumstances, can be raised after a spouse's death.

Because property and inheritance rights are based on your father's relationship (or lack of relationship) with the woman in question, whether the marriage was, in fact, a marriage is obviously relevant to the ultimate distribution of his assets after his death.

The specific answer to your question must be provided by your lawyer and the courts of your state, but generally speaking, if your father was unable (as the doctors apparently state) to enter into a contract because of his inability to consent or because he was vulnerable and unduly influenced, the "marriage" contract could have been voided by a court during his life so long as evidence is provided proving his condition.

Donate to JWR


Evidence of your father's vulnerability and whether he was subjected to duress and undue influence is not only relevant to the marriage question, but also to whether he had the capacity to make his will last December. If, as you say, your father was prevented from seeing his family and was surrounded daily by a woman half his age and two of her children, chances are that he was unduly influenced.

That he was elderly, possibly suffered from debilitating dementia, and was not allowed access to his family are clearly ripe issues for judicial inquiry.

It's important to note that there is no meaningful process in any state that prescreens individuals for dementia or any other condition that would affect their ability to enter a marriage contract before they are granted a license to marry. A 24-hour waiting period between the time a marriage license is applied for and the ceremony itself does nothing to help avoid the type of situation you describe. It seems to us that because there are a growing number of seniors who remarry, state legislatures should make some effort to deal with situations like yours, which usually ends up in litigation. At the very least, the issuing officer should do more than just allow folks to sign on the dotted line when the appearance of lack of capacity or duress is present.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

Archives

© 2005, Jan Warner

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles