My Father-in-law passed away in July 2012. He retired from the railroad business and he has been ‘married’ 4 times and has 5 children. He was married to wife #2 in Indiana (who is the mother of 3 of his children) and filed for divorce in 1989 (not 100% sure that was the year). He then ‘remarried’ 2 times thereafter. 10 months before his passing he moved out of the home that he & wife #4 shared. He had a will stating that all his assets were to go to his 5 children (he did not father any children with wife 3&4) but had wife #4 as benefactor on all of his accounts (retirement, life insurance etc.). Well wife #2 filed for a portion of his retirement benefits. It turns out that she & father-in-law were never legally divorced. The railroad recognizes wife #2 as his legal spouse and has taken wife #4’s name off of his benefits. I’m not 100% sure where a majority of his benefits are, but I do know his total assets amount to approx $3.5 million. Before Father-in-law passed he stated that all of his money was in stocks & bonds. I do know that the railroad offered him a lot of stock as part of his retirement. Is this considered retirement benefits from the railroad or would this be in an investor account? My main question is what options does wife #2 have in making sure that wife #4 does not get anything except the vehicles they shared (both names on title with survivorship listed). Sorry this is so long winded and complicated. It’s been a nightmare for my husband & his siblings.
Based on the information above, since your father-in-law willed away his assets to his children, then wife #2 will not get anything that was validly willed away.
In regard to wife #2 filing for a portion of your father-in-law’s retirement benefits, because he deemed wife #4 as his benefactor and not wife #2, wife #4 may have a strong chance to challenge the railroads removal.
Additionally, since the railroad company offered your father-in-law stock as part of his retirement account, then this will be considered reitrement benefits.
Finally, because it is unclear as to which of his marriages his employment with the railroad encompassed, I cannot provide you with a definite answer on what wife #2 is entitled to.
A court will attempt to balance all the information regarding your father-in-law’s wishes in dividing his property. Unfortunately there are to many variables and unknows to provide you with an accurate answer. You should contact an estate adjudication expert for additional information regarding your situation.