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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 10-26-2016, 08:59 PM
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Default Legal Advice Sought about Dependant's Claim

I haven't been to this site for ages and a lot has happened. I am actually now more "wivorced" than "divorced" b/c my EX has died... and our children are even more at a disadvantage.

To get to the point... I was married to a man who used alcohol for most of his adult life to handle his anxieties... he died a horrible death this past spring (bleeding in the brain, a seriously compromised kidney, etc.)

I had left him in late 2011. He fought to keep control... of the children, of our assets, of me. So a lot of money was lost to banks and to lawyers.

When he died, his brother refused to respond to my questions about where my former husband's remains were, if there was a will, etc. (An insurance examiner told me about the death.)

I now know (5 months after his death) that my EX arranged to give $260K of a $300K life insurance to his brother (as a named beneficiary) and to transfer his RRSP and LIRA funds to him as well (as a direct beneficiary). In the will that was finally produced, only recently, he left 80% of other assets to his brother, 10% to each of his children, if they prove that they are in fact his children.

However, my former BIL claims that his brother died destitute and through a lawyer has threatened me with legal costs. He also claims that it would be a burden to him to be the executor (although that is requested in the will).

I consulted a lawyer to get this far. But now she suddenly hints that I should NOT proceed with a dependant's claim for my 2 children, because I might have to pay huge legal fees... and I don't have too many assets. (I also only work on contract, when I am lucky... currently at $15 per hour).

So all my kids get is $40K from that same life insurance policy to cover their child support, some kind of CPP payment for a few years and that's it.

Do you think my lawyer is correct.... that I should let my former BIL have that money for himself... it's too risky for me? (Former BIL is a very well off guy, BTW with a spouse who earns over $100K and only one adult child who already has acquired a comp sci degree.)

Is there anything I can do... that does not involve me paying thousands of dollars in legal fees for an outcome that is uncertain? Note that I don't get any money myself. If I am not mistaken, the court would have the funds put in a trust. (BTW, I didn't even ask for spousal support. I thought that if I didn't do so... I'd be more likely to at least get child support. I really have had bad legal advice all along.)

My kids are currently 12 and 14 years old... completely cut off from their dear uncle, their cousin, aunt, grandmother.... they just have me and I'm a few months away from "freedom" 55. Who is ready to take on the world at 18? Who doesn't need a bit of help financially and emotionally from their family as they venture into adulthood? My kids really are screwed over.

Can't my kids get help from somewhere to have their legal rights or best interests protected??? From a taxpayer point of view... taxpayers help support my kids... while their prosperous uncle is now even better off from the money that should have gone to them instead. I mean that guy lives in a beautiful custom-built home (he's an architect), my former husband lived in a nice apartment with a saltwater pool, etc. ($1300 per month for a bachelor pad)... but my kids and I have lived in a crummy subsidized housing community for years now. They once lived in a lovely home with a wonderful garden. I always thought that leaving was a necessary evil... not the start to a wonderful new life without a raving alcoholic. I never imagined that my EX would be dead so soon. He was a wounded, angry soul. RIP... that's what I wish for him now. Sorry for being so lengthy.
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Old 10-26-2016, 09:28 PM
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Sorry you are going through this. Personally I think I'd move on. Your kids received something (not nothing). Perhaps encourage them to save the money they receive (survivor benefits and small life insurance).

Your BIL may be wealthy but that has absolutely nothing to do with you or your children. What someone leaves in their will has nothing to do with need. Had your ex not left anything in the will to the children then they might have grounds to dispute it. I think you should listen to your lawyer's advice and put the past behind you. The past is the past... don't make your children relive it.
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Old 10-27-2016, 12:12 AM
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Was your ex paying child support at the time of death? How old are the children? Was there an order for life insurance in your original court order/agreement?
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Old 10-27-2016, 12:21 AM
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I'm sorry... I see your children's ages in your original request for advice. $40,000 each for life insurance amounts to approximately $4000 per year left of child support paying, give or take a few dollars and years, depending on whether there continue into post secondary school, etc etc.

This is only from my understanding of what I have researched. Your ex has reasonably accounted for them, in his will.

If he did not reasonably account for them, the will could be set aside and the Succession Law Reform Act would come into play. It will be as if the will never existed.

If he only left $40,000 for your children total, together, he may not have accounted for them reasonably (with enough funds). There will be a cost to fight this. If you win, you can ask the court to order the estate to pay for the costs (ie BIL).

I'd personally seek another lawyers opinion. I think it's worth that, at least. But do look into the Succession Law Reform Act
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Old 10-27-2016, 03:50 AM
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I believe there is also a CPP dependents claim you can make for a monthly income for the kids until they turn 18 as well...
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Old 10-27-2016, 06:36 AM
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Hello Arabian

It does. My daughter needs braces but cannot have them. Her classmates are going on a school trip in the spring and she cannot join them. The Chromebook I bought a few years ago is on the blink... and so it goes.

Meanwhile her uncle goes on trips to Europe, the USA... He's 61 or 62 btw.

Yes it does matter and it is wrong, but legal loopholes and being beaten back by a crafty lawyer is part of the reason why that $300K life insurance policy that only exists b/c of the birth of my daughter goes mostly to someone who does not need more wealth.

I wish there was some way to approach the court or a board with just the plain facts and then have a decision. My BIL is able and willing to do what his brother did.... pay lawyers lots of money. They are so nasty. The thing about the DNA test is very bad. I am the goody two shoes type, to put things into perspective (although I do have a sense of humour and also a good heart).

Last edited by sjandme; 10-27-2016 at 06:45 AM. Reason: To acknowledge someone specific and add a few details.
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Old 10-27-2016, 06:40 AM
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Yes Bellbaby.... I know about that CPP payment. I applied for it once I finally had the information. It will take some months for that application to be processed. It's about $238 monthly per child... which may or may not impact on other benefits available to them. Thanks.

Last edited by sjandme; 10-27-2016 at 07:24 AM. Reason: Spelling correction
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Old 10-27-2016, 07:17 AM
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Did you have a separation agreement that outlined that your ex was to have a life insurance policy with the children as beneficiaries?
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Old 10-27-2016, 07:40 AM
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Yes that life insurance policy with $40,000 specified. It was the last point of contention and that lawyer kept bringing down that amount (from $300K) adding a threat every time... sign by midnight or else... that kind of thing. Most of the $55K in legal fees I had to pay directly to my lawyer were "earned" during these last few weeks of "negotiating". Earlier in the year a judge had given me almost all of my husband's assets through a court order. It was because he had dragged things out, failed to appear, failed to present documents, etc. He went through 2 lawyers, the second one (earned a few months before the settlement was very determined to win back whatever he could, using every tactic, every advantage, whatever he could... but I see now to avoid a judge again getting involved.

I just wanted to release my emotions now by telling my story.

Also I was hoping someone knew about "dependant's claims". I can only find information about handicapped adult children, a case with a horribly racist father (odd one that)....

I think my kids would have a claim but I would have to pay a LOT of money with bad (or good lawyers depending on your perspective) involved. That would be out of the money I have to get money for my kids when they are adults. If the other "side" played some kind of trick where I'd have to spend lots of money.... I'd be really screwed.

Any way you look at it legally, morally it is wrong. I am trying to wrap my head around this... how a family could write off 2 kids, deny the fact that the father was an alcoholic, etc., etc. I need to reach higher ground fast so I can keep being the best parent I can for my 2 kids, in a very healthy, decent way... to counter what they got from dad. They only remember the angry, cruel daddy. I know there was more to him, from our time of courting. I am mourning his death, big time... although it's getting a bit better now.

I wish he had spent money getting counselling instead of legal "help". Before I left I begged him to try AA (not for everyone I know)... to talk to his doctor at least.

If you can find a way to bring down the hostility in your own relationships, for your sake, for everyone's, try that.... If you have to have ongoing interaction with an EX for the sake of your kids especially.

It is accurate to say that my kids hate their dad, even in death. So maybe it doesn't matter where their dad's remains lie. My son wore a Darth Vadar t-shirt when we had an "impromptu" memorial service for him.

Last edited by sjandme; 10-27-2016 at 07:41 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 10-27-2016, 08:15 AM
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You could pursue the matter as a self-represented litigant?

One thing I have learned over the past 7 years is that lawyers generally do not like going up against someone who is not represented by counsel. When my ex was self-represented for a year or so my lawyer found it mildly irritating I recall. My ex clearly did not understand the process and therefore my lawyer had to be extremely careful not to appear as aggressive (courts don't like that).

It sounds as though you need to get closure one way or another. Perhaps going through the process of objecting to the will is therefore something you can contemplate. You should probably go to the courthouse and/or speak to duty counsel with regards to deadlines and procedures. Along the way if you need to get a lawyer (on a limited retainer) you can do that.

Whatever your decision I wish you good luck. I don't think this is a situation where you can merely "dabble" at it but rather have to be quite committed. 5 months have now passed and you have to find out what the status is of the estate.
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