Wife's Right to Share of Husband's Property Not Extinguished by Trust He Established
Description Kentucky appeals court upheld a verdict in favor of a widow who sued for her dower interest in her late husband's estate. His effort to transfer all his property to his children immediately before his marriage did not defeat his wife's interest since she did not agree to give up her interest in his estate.
Topic Wills, Estates, and Trusts
Key Words Estate; Dower Interest; Trust
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Joe and Lillian Martin were married in 1985. Joe had three adult children from a previous marriage. The day before the marriage, his children accompanied him to an attorney, where he executed a trust agreement, naming himself and his son-in-law as co-trustees. Joe conveyed his property to the trust, naming himself as income beneficiary during his life; the corpus of the trust to be distributed to his children upon his death. Joe told Lillian of the trust the day before they were married; she refused to sign a prenuptial agreement he gave her. They lived together for 12 years before his death. Lillian, as administratrix of Joe's estate, sued, contending that the property transfer to the trust was a fraud on dower. His children argued that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court held in Lillian's favor; the children appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Lillian's interest in Joe's property was not extinguished by the trust he established. She was entitled to a dower interest in his property upon his death. The fact that she knew about the trust does not affect the dower interest as she did not release that interest. The intent to defraud Lillian of her dower interest in Joe's property could be inferred from the attempt to pass all property into the trust immediately before their marriage in an effort to disinherit her from Joe's estate.
Citation Mathias v. Martin, 2000 WL 1479595 (Ct. App., Ky., 2000)

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