Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 10:58 AM

I pray someone knows the answers to some of these questions.

I have a friend, "Mary", whose son was killed several days ago in the line of duty. Her son was divorced, with two children ages 6 and 3. My friend does not have a good relationship with her ex-DIL. The ex-DIL is pregnant, but she never claimed the baby she is carrying was my friend's son's child until he died. Now, out of the blue, she says the baby she is carrying is his. My friend thinks she is saying this in hopes of getting extra benefits. This bothers my friend because she does not think this child belongs to her son and she wants the benefit money to go to the 6 and 3 year old.

In addition, a random girl called my friend yesterday and said she is also pregnant with Mary's son's child. She has never heard of this girl or met her. She has no idea what to do.

The body has not been released to my friend yet. The weather in Washington has held that up. She is hoping to have the funeral next week. She of course is paying all funeral expenses. She is not sure who the beneficiaries are on her son's life insurance policy, but he told her that he had put it in her name. If that is true and Mary is the beneficiary of the insurance, she wants to set up a trust for the 6 yr. old and the 3 year old. But she doesn't know what to do about this third child the ex-wife is carrying. She is afraid if the ex-wife puts her son's name on the birth certificate then it will be hard to fight. She has zero money for an attorney.

What should she do? I told her for now she must focus on getting her son home and his funeral over with, taking care of herself and her family. I told her to try not to engage with these women for now, especially the random chick who just showed up.

I feel so bad for her. To lose a son and then have to deal with all these issues. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

www.bride-whisperer.com

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 11:49 AM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

Dear FE,

Your friend needs to see a lawyer.

I am a moderator on a legal/financial website. I only participate on the financial side, but lurk in the legal boards. I can guarantee that the lawyers on that website would say "Consult counsel".

Here is my personal experience. I had a first cousin who died while on active duty. He was divorced, with full custody of his two children. Apparently his wife said, one day, "I don't want to be a wife and mother any more", and left.

My cousin had specific instructions as to who would take care of his children (7 and 5) in the event of his death. He wanted his brother and SIL to get custody.

None of that mattered. Mom came back, wanted custody and got it, plus became the trustee of all the death benefits to which the children were entitled. The brother and grandparents tried to fight it, in court, but lost. Unless Mom is completely, provably unfit, Mom trumps Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle.

***

In the case of the expected baby, as the wife of the deceased soldier, I would hazard a guess that she has the absolute right to declare paternity. If another father steps forward and claims paternity, then he might be required to prove his paternity with DNA testing. If no other father steps forward, then legally the new baby would be fully entitled to survivor benefits, just like the other two.

Bear in mind that sometimes couples do not announce a pregnancy until it is advanced. Women miscarry, etc, and they may not want anyone to know about the pregnancy, especially grandparents, until they have passed the danger of an early miscarriage. This could be true, even in a second or third pregnancy. They may have announced early in the first pregnancy, due to excitement, then later wished they had waited.

In the case of the unmarried woman expecting this solidier's baby, I would further hazard a guess she will be required to prove paternity with DNA, and not just her own statement. If the baby is proven to be the soldier's child, then that baby would be entitled to survivor benefits.

"She is not sure who the beneficiaries are on her son's life insurance policy, but he told her that he had put it in her name."

As a married man, he may not have been able to assign a beneficiary as anyone except his wife without his wife's approval. It is not all that cut and dried. I know that in the paperwork we have signed for life insurance, there is verbiage to the effect that if the beneficiary is anyone other than the insured person's spouse, then the spouse must sign off. The law makes the presumption that a person intendes for their estate to go to their spouse, and that presumption can override what is written in a life insurance policy or will.

On the other hand, my husband's company took out "key man" insurance for him. They paid for the policy, as they paid for policies for all their "key" people. In the event of a "key" person dying suddenly, the company needs funds to pay for business continuity. (This is very common in the entertainment industry.) As the spouse, I had to sign off on the "key man" insurance so the company could be the beneficiary.

Another real-life example: I know of a man who left everything to his wife in his will, then got divorced. The man's adult children were upset as the ex-wife stated that NOTHING, not even a ring, not even a pair of boots, would go to the children. The daughter asked me if I knew of any way around that, and I referred her to my lawyer. The lawyer showed her state law that in such a circumstance, of a divorce taking place after a will is written, the bequests to the ex-spouse are null and void. If he truly wanted his estate to go to the ex-wife, he should have amended his will appropriately after the divorce. Thus, the ex-wife got NOTHING and the adult children got EVERYTHING.

In my opinion, you need to prepare the grandmother for the very real possibility that she won't have a legal leg to stand on. See if, some how, some way, she can consult with a lawyer who can tell her exactly what to expect, under your state law. It is also very possible that she won't be able to see her grandchildren unless the mother agrees.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 12:15 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

Dear FE,

More bad news. I just thought of another one.

My own mother was married to an Air Force pilot for nine months. They had no children. He died in active duty. (WWII)

The man's mother, my mother's then-MIL, believed that all the death benefits, life insurance, etc., should go to HER, the mother, rather that the golddigging widow of a nine month marriage.

The military said otherwise, and my mother got her full survivor's benefits. The MIL put pressure on my mother to just hand over the money. My mother refused, then took the money and paid for her own college education. It was a bad situation, and my mother told me of it years later. My mother was a very nice person and tried hard to never say bad things about anyone, but she had to tell me quite frankly that the former MIL was a real bitch. My mother never used language like that, unless seriously warranted.

My mother married my father after the war, and lived happily ever after.

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 12:21 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

AOTB - If they are divorced though (which I think Francie said they were) won't the ex have to prove paternity too?

She needs to get a lawyer.

 

 

 

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karebeartg Posts : 831 Registered: 6/25/08
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 12:37 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

Lawyer here. (A relatively new one, but with enough knowledge to say this)

She absolutely, positively needs to get a lawyer.

I know you say money is an issue, so she should contacts Veteran's Support groups or Parents of Veteran's support groups and see if they can recommend a lawyer who can help with either a payment plan or a pro bono lawyer.

How recently were they divorced? Divorce might change the presumption of paternity (I don't know), but regardless, she needs a lawyer.

Really.

 

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AmyJustin2010 Posts : 201 Registered: 1/18/10
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 1:43 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

Tell her to contact MilitaryOneSource. They are usually the recommended source of information for those who have lost a loved one on active duty. They have a legal department. I don't know whether or not they will actually help her with her specific case, but they can start her on her way and give her legal advice as far as next steps. Also, they will know about benefits and how they will affect her, etc.

AmyJustin2010.Weebly.Com

 

Amy & Justin--Buffalo Sabres Fanatics :) 

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DoesntPlayNice Posts : 809 Registered: 12/17/08
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 3:04 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

I am not 100% sure but if they are divorced and that baby is not listed as one of his dependants (which it wouldn't be because it isn't born) then the ex wife would have to prove paternity. Sad to say but the military doesnt care about unborn children of non dependants.

Any insurance money would go to whoever he put down as his beneficiary. I was married and had my Dad down as my beneficiary and not my husband and my husband didn't have to sign anything. I later changed it but just saying....you can choose who ever you want to get the money and it doesnt have to be the spouse. I also talked to a JAG lawyer when I made my will and he made it clear that my daughter would get 50% (as i put in there) and my dad the other 50%.


Previously Posted as Military Bride.

CEO of E.N.E.M.A. (Enemy Negotiations & Extraction Military Agency) A special Division of P.O.O.P. (People Offended by Offended People)

When POOP can't do it alone....they call for the ENEMA.



Edited by: DoesntPlayNice on Feb 12, 2010 2:06 PM

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 5:21 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

Ladies,

" If they are divorced though (which I think Francie said they were)"

WHOOPS!!!! I missed that. Totally.

Yes, if they were divorced at the time of the conception of the new baby, then I'd like to bet that paternity would have to be established by DNA.

Good catch, PTG!! Thanks.

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 7:14 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

No problem - I was confused thinking I had misread something.... Such a rough situation.

My bro was in a bad place and if we had lost him, I'm concerned that we wouldn't ever be allowed to see his kids. In NJ you have to prove that it's detrimental to the kids to NOT see you (aunt, grandparents, etc) to get visitation rights.

 

 

 

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 13, 2010 1:12 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

OMG! Thank you guys so very much for this advice and information! I really didn't know what to tell my friend and you guys gave me some good advice and some good resources for her to follow up on. She will really appreciate it and I do too! Thank you!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

www.bride-whisperer.com

http://twitter.com/BrideWhispering

http://bridewhisperer.blogspot.com  

 

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 15, 2010 12:46 AM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

Francie,

I have no advice, but I am very sorry that your friend has to have all of this stress ON TOP OF losing her son. Very sad for her.
Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Feb 15, 2010 8:24 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Oh sweetie, thank you for just answering and giving me support and advice! It helped so much. His funeral was today so hopefully my friend can soon start focusing on all this.

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

www.bride-whisperer.com

http://twitter.com/BrideWhispering

http://bridewhisperer.blogspot.com  

 

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Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
Posted: Sep 13, 2012 7:04 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

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Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
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Re: Military Question: Please Help! Need Advice!
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