Tuesday, August 16, 2016
How can I make sure the beneficiary has to prove she deserves the money?
Posted by Lynne Butler
The spouse is getting everything from this poor guy's estate. She only stayed with him for the money. She has had multiple affairs. She really neglected his sickness 5 full days prior to his last hospitalization, and once taken to hospital, she did not go with him, instead went to the lawyer dealing with fathers estate to ask about him dying without a will. Questioned if she should push for a will to be signed that day. How can I make sure she has to prove she deserves all this money? He died because of her.
I can see that this matter is really painful for you and that it has stirred up a lot of emotions. I don't think my answer is going to comfort you at all.
The simple answer to your question is: you can't make her prove she deserves the money.
Beneficiaries do not have to prove that they deserve their inheritance. I can't even imagine the mess that idea would make if we tried to implement it. Who would you prove it to? What evidence would you have to call? How could you prove something like "she only stayed with him for the money" when there is probably no evidence except for her thoughts? And how on earth would anyone ever set the standards for who deserved what? Whose moral code would we follow?
Our criminal law system is set up to judge and punish behaviour that elected legislators have made illegal for the protection of society. Even that has its limitations, since not visiting your husband in the hospital or staying with him for the money are not illegal.
I realize that you believe it is unfair for her to inherit from her husband, but inheritance law can't help you there. A legal right to inherit is not based on moral fitness. It is based either on the fact that you are a dependent (such as a spouse or minor child) or that the testator wanted you to have a share of the estate as evidenced by a will. Even though she might have been a really terrible wife, the fact that this fellow married her and stayed married to her is the evidence the court would consider relevant. If he had felt that her behaviour was beyond what his moral code could accept, he could have divorced her, separated from her, or made a will leaving at least some of his estate to other beneficiaries.
We have a legal system, not a moral justice system. You'll have to hope she gets run over by the karma bus because it isn't the job of the probate courts to decide her worthiness.