Red Devil vs. Black Widow
We believe that the sister-in-law enabled/assisted self destructive behavior resulting in brother's suicide so that she could obtain his life insurance payout ($1M+) and be sole heir to his estate. He was 59 years old and a former Marine fighter pilot (VMFA 232/Red Devils) and retired airline pilot. They were only married for 4 years. I have a two page synopsis and a 14-page document that I would be happy to provide to whomever would like to know the entire story. My brother was an amazing person loved by everyone and she is the most morally bankrupt person I have encountered in my 54 year life. She isolated my brother from family and friends, abetted his alcohol addiction, orchestrated his beneficiary designations, ignored pleas for information from family, refused to provide information to police during welfare check and subsequent adult protective services visit, requested weapons be returned to the home ultimately used for suicide, hijacked his Facebook page to block family and friends after his death (they weren't friends prior to his death), threatened friends who tried to maintain contact....and more.
First, I am very sorry for your loss. It sounds like a horrible tragedy compounded by these extra factors.
Unfortunately, I am not sure how you would maintain an action, under these circumstances.
Under the "slayer statute" in Michigan someone who intentionally kills someone else cannot financially benefit from that. In order for that statute to apply, however, there needs to be intent. There have been cases that have applied the statute to situations involving voluntary manslaughter. But I do not see how it could apply in a suicide case. Since your brother apparently committed suicide, you have a tougher task before you, and that statute would not apply.
Under the Michigan Wrongful death statute, you can recover damages for a death caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault OF ANOTHER PERSON. I do not see how that can be applied to a suicide situation, either. If you can somehow PROVE that the death would not have taken place, but for the actions or inactions of the wife, then maybe there could be some way to pursue a claim.
This would be an extremely complicated situation and you will need a very skilled litigation attorney to bring a potential suit. You would also need a probate attorney to start a probate estate, because only a Personal Representative can bring a wrongful death suit in Michigan. Presumably, the spouse would object to your opening an estate and/or being appointed as Personal Representative.
I do not want to say that there is no chance. I think that it would be exceedingly difficult, however, and there would need to be some really compelling evidence to assign blame to the widow.
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I also extend my sympathy on the death of your brother.
And like Mr. Frederick, I doubt that you can sue successfully in this instance.
If you want to try, you should marshal all the actual evidence (including his medical history before death) and look for a personal injury lawyer who is willing to consult with you.
I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia and regularly handle cases of this sort. My answering your question does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult a lawyer so you can tell the lawyer the entire situation and get legal advice that is precisely tailored to your case.
Your question should be re-cast in the personal injury section of this site and I have posted that way. I'm sorry for your loss, and trying to understand the tragedy is incredibly difficult.
As the other attorney's have indicated, it is unlikely you would have a wrongful case, although far more facts would need to be know before anyone can give a better answer. You would need to show that the wife's actions were the proximate cause of death, a very difficult thing to do. The mere fact that she failed to help him in his time of need won't be enough. I recommend you consult with a litigation attorney in your area who has experience with wrongful death claims to learn more.
I hope this helps you. If it has, please mark as "helpful" or a "best" answer. ******************** I am licensed in Michigan and Illinois, and regularly handle legal matters of this sort. The answer provided here is based on the limited facts you have submitted Actual documents, expanded facts, and local law knowledge are all necessary to provide a comprehensive and specific answer to your questions. The opinion offered here is for your information only and no client-attorney relationship is created by this response.
You will want to arrange a consultation with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with Life Insurance Companies and related issues. On the surface, this does not appear to be an "easy" case. However, a definitive analysis cannot be conducted without reviewing the evidence you gathered and then conducting a detailed interview of you and possibly other relevant witnesses. . I am sorry for your loss.
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I would contact a specialist in life insurance / insurance attorney to look into fraud regarding the switching of beneficiary and a Probate litigation specialist regarding challenging the will / estate plan if there was fraud in the switching of the beneficiaries. As for wrongful death consult with an injury specialist. It's doubtful there is a cause of action for being an enabler in a marriage with alcoholism but you should at least have a consultation and provide the additional information.
Always consult an attorney IMMEDIATELY as there are time limitations on filing a lawsuit.
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