– from Terry K. in Franklin, WI

Question Details:

My wife and I divorced in 2004. Before our divorce, we bought a cabin in Eagle River. As part of the property division, the court awarded my wife the cabin until she died, decided to sell the home (in which she would get 45% of the proceeds and I would receive 55%), or April 17, 2016, whichever came first.

She remarried in 2012 and named her husband as her sole beneficiary. She passed away. Her current husband wants to keep the cabin and will not pay me for my share nor vacate as he claims she passed the house down to him. He wants to settle this in probate court but the divorce and property division occurred in a family court. Who owns the property and what is the proper court to appear in front of?

Family Law Attorney Response:

My initial thoughts are the current gentleman owning the cabin does not have the authority to do so, however more details may be needed.

While your ex-wife may have named her new husband as her sole beneficiary after she passed away, this does not necessarily overrule a property division agreement made prior to the new marriage. However, this should be settled and finalized in a family court, not a probate court

Like in the case of Morrissette v. Morrissette 299 N.W.2d 590, 99 Wis.2d 467 (Ct. App. 1980), the property division occurred in front of a family court. While a probate court generally handles any beneficiary issue, the previous ruling should be upheld and a controversy like this should be held in family court.

If you would like, contact me and we can discuss more details to the case regarding the property division and prior agreement. This will help solidify your argument.

Lawyer Holly Mullin from Sterling Law Offices
Holly Mullin, J.D.
Family Law Attorney

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