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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  Run my own successful business/contract law practice.
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corporate ownership after divorce and death of spouse

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My husband and I divorced a number of years ago. We had a corporation in which we both owned an equal share of stock (50% each). We were married over 18 years. As I recall the by-laws stated that in case of either of our death the other would inherit the others percentage. In case we both died my daughter would inherit the corporation. Apparently this was never addressed during the divorce. My husband remarried about 3 years ago and died 12/24/2010. It is my understanding that the estate went into probate, but I was not notified nor was my daughter. A compliance hearing is being held sometime in Sept. Apparently his recent widow has contacted a number of attorneys and has been told that my daughter and I must be notified and that we are the legal owners of the corporation. However it is my understanding that the company is being liquidated and assets are being hidden and she is afraid my daughter and I might find out. I have heard about this from mutual friends that she apparently spoke with regarding her concerns. I also have a will leaving me all his assets, I don't know if he wrote a new one or not. I live in California what are my options?
It is my understanding that the new wife was also told she was not married to him long enough and because of this she is basically out of the picture.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Obtain counsel right away, specifically a probate attorney that has experience with contract and business law, and hopefully family law also. Generally upon divorce that asset should have been split or addressed, and if not, the original terms in the contract govern, which means that upon death (and not divorce), you obtained full shares in the business. The reason you need such a versatile attorney is because you will need to see if a will was probated and file a will contest, file suit against her as the current "owner" of the business to stop the liquidation and as a consequence take it over based on your shares, and also request a formal forensic accounting of the business via court order. The latter will tell you if assets were removed or taken out of a business entity that yours no matter how it is reviewed--you either own 50% in proportionate shares, or the full 100% based on the articles of operation, and the more likely interpretation. In essence you must block, delay, and stop her ability to pursue the sale, and then take over whatever assets you believe to be yours. The will here is irrelevant since even if he rewrote the will and granted her half of the business, you still own the other half. The reason I believe it to be irrelevant is because unless the Articles in the business were changed, they are deemed controlling and superior to a will bequest.

Good luck.
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