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HotrodLisaMarie

Collecting Property Settlement after death of ex.

10 posts in this topic

While married, my husband coerced me into signing a Quit Claim deed on our marital home. He then went on to put it into a Life Estate in his eldest son and two grandchildren's names. When we were divorcing, the judge over-ruled this and awarded me a property settlement anyway. My ex has been paying it in $300 monthly installments. Sadly, he passed away last month. His eldest son has already rented the property out and has taken possession of all personal vehicles, motorcycles and welding equipment for himself. I've been told he has already traded off or sold most of these items 'under the table'. Is there any way for me to collect the remaining $11,000 owed me from the property settlement ? I've started the paperwork on a Claim of Lien but don't even know if this would be valid because of the Life Estate issue. I'm disabled and on a fixed income and can't afford an attorney. ( death certificate had not even been recorded last I checked // my ex did not leave a will// divorce judge has retired) Can someone please tell me what steps I can take ? Thank you.

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Does the Florida property settlement and/or divorce decree stipulate that the payments end at his death?  Just wondering.

 

Do you think there are enough assets from your ex-husband's estate that the estate could afford to continue paying this amount (either in total, or on a monthly basis) if it is determined to still be due and payable and if you find an attorney to file your claim against the estate?

 

Please start talking or emailing/calling different probate attorneys in your area to explain your situation and you are likely to find one willing to help you on a pro-bono basis.  For the amount of money you are expecting to receive, this is too important a matter to be a do-it-yourself job.  As a creditor, your attorney may advise you that you may be eligible to get this estate open as an intestate matter, and then someone will have to officially account for all assets and not just continue to claim them willy-nilly.

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You can enforce your divorce decree against his estate. If the son has hidden the assets to avoid paying the debts of the estate he can be held liable for the money.

 

We can't give you step by step procedural advice.

 

I suggest you consult an attorney.

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1 hour ago, HotrodLisaMarie said:

When we were divorcing, the judge over-ruled this and awarded me a property settlement anyway.

 

I assume this means the court awarded you money.  Was it an award of $X to be paid at $Y per month?  Or was it simply an award of $Y per month?  An exact quote from the divorce decree would probably be useful.

 

 

1 hour ago, HotrodLisaMarie said:

Is there any way for me to collect the remaining $11,000 owed me from the property settlement ?

 

Yes.  How long ago did he die?  Has probate been opened?

 

 

1 hour ago, HotrodLisaMarie said:

I've started the paperwork on a Claim of Lien but don't even know if this would be valid because of the Life Estate issue.

 

I'm not sure what this means, but you can't put a lien on the property unless the divorce decree expressly gave you the right to do that (although, even if it did, if you didn't do it before he died, it might be too late).  Did the decree expressly give you that right?

 

 

1 hour ago, HotrodLisaMarie said:

Can someone please tell me what steps I can take ?

 

The answer to this question depends on how you answer my questions.  However, unless you hire a lawyer, you're going to have to figure out how to do this yourself, and it will be extremely difficult to do that.  It's probably not a good DIY project.

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16 hours ago, knort4 said:

Does the Florida property settlement and/or divorce decree stipulate that the payments end at his death?  Just wondering.

 

Do you think there are enough assets from your ex-husband's estate that the estate could afford to continue paying this amount (either in total, or on a monthly basis) if it is determined to still be due and payable and if you find an attorney to file your claim against the estate?

 

Please start talking or emailing/calling different probate attorneys in your area to explain your situation and you are likely to find one willing to help you on a pro-bono basis.  For the amount of money you are expecting to receive, this is too important a matter to be a do-it-yourself job.  As a creditor, your attorney may advise you that you may be eligible to get this estate open as an intestate matter, and then someone will have to officially account for all assets and not just continue to claim them willy-nilly.

  Hello and thank you for responding. No, the divorce decree does not say anything about what happens should he die before it is paid off. I requested that he have to carry life insurance to cover the settlement should he die but it was not awarded as he had the court fooled into thinking he was living entirely off of S.S. retirement benefits. There would be enough to cover the settlement just with the sale of two of his vehicles and I am more then willing to accept monthly payments. It sounds like I'm going to need an attorney which I can't afford. I had to sell my personal vehicle just to retain the divorce attorney. Do you have any advice on finding an attorney that would be open to pro bono work ? Also, should I go ahead and file a Claim of Lien to prevent the sale of the home and land or does it not even come into play because of the Life Estate ? Thanks again knort4.

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17 hours ago, adjusterjack said:

You can enforce your divorce decree against his estate. If the son has hidden the assets to avoid paying the debts of the estate he can be held liable for the money.

 

We can't give you step by step procedural advice.

 

I suggest you consult an attorney.

 Thank you for replying adjusterjack. Do you have any advice on how to find an attorney willing to do this pro-bono for someone who is disabled and on a small, fixed income ?

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16 hours ago, pg1067 said:

 

 

I assume this means the court awarded you money.  Was it an award of $X to be paid at $Y per month?  Or was it simply an award of $Y per month?  An exact quote from the divorce decree would probably be useful. 

 

 

 

Yes.  How long ago did he die?  Has probate been opened?

 

 

 

I'm not sure what this means, but you can't put a lien on the property unless the divorce decree expressly gave you the right to do that (although, even if it did, if you didn't do it before he died, it might be too late).  Did the decree expressly give you that right?

 

 

 

The answer to this question depends on how you answer my questions.  However, unless you hire a lawyer, you're going to have to figure out how to do this yourself, and it will be extremely difficult to do that.  It's probably not a good DIY project.

 Hello and thank you for responding. He was ordered to pay $20,000 on December 11, 2015. $2000 by January 15, 2016 and then the remainder in $300 a month payments. My ex failed to do so and was brought up and held in contempt. At that time they said----1) Respondent is found to be in contempt of the final judgement.2) Respondent owes Petitioner $2,000 which is reduced to a judgement for which execution may issue.3) Amount of judgement shall bear interest at the statutory rate from January 15,2016.4) This court reserves jurisdiction for such further orders as may become necessary in this cause. (judge has since retired)

 My ex died on October 16, 2018. No probate has been opened. When I checked the courthouse at the end of November his death certificate hadn't yet been filed. (stepson has already collected one S.S. retirement check in ex's name)

 The divorce decree said nothing about my right to attach a property lien. That was something that I thought might be applicable. Can you explain why it should have been done before his death ? I wasn't trying to collect unpaid monies while he was still alive. I'm afraid I don't understand.

  Do you have any advice on finding an attorney willing to do pro-bono work on this for someone who is disabled and on a small, fixed income ? Thank you again for your time.

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The notion that attorneys do pro bono work for random clients is a prevalent myth.  Some attorneys do work for (or are employed by) agencies who provide pro bono services in connection with certain issues (e.g., legal aid, the ACLU, etc.).  Some attorneys may also provide pro bono services in connection with causes that they find personally important.  However, I've never heard of attorneys who will work for free for private clients unconnected with any sort of "cause" (the exception being a lawyer doing free work for a friend or family member).  Of course, just because I've never heard of this doesn't mean some attorneys don't do this, but I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to find one.

 

As for the rest of this, once you had an enforceable judgment, you could have established a lien based on that judgment.  It's water under the bridge now, though.

 

You might be able to find a lawyer (probably one who's newly out of law school) who might be willing to chase this on contingency.

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