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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 118722
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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My cousin, "spouse ", was married to his gay partner,

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My cousin, "spouse B", was married to his gay partner, "spouse A", in February 2015. Spouse A was the POA for Spouse B. Spouse B died unexpectedly on August 7, 2016 at the Medical Center of Aurora, Colorado. Spouse B fled Missouri May 2016, due to domestic violence - spouse A had been verbally, emotionally and physically violent to spouse B in the last two years. Spouse B told me about the abuse, as well as others. He was seen by at least one physician in KC, MO, to whom he told about the abuse. In Colorado, he was seen by at least one physician because the tendons in one of his arms were seriously injured by spouse A. Spouse B was waiting to receive Missouri medical records before Colorado physicians could surgically repair his wounds. They jointly own an old(er) car. Spouse A's name is ***** ***** name that appears on the warranty deed for their home, as a "single person". Spouse B has medical bills, some from Missouri, some from Colorado. Divorce papers had been drafted and only needed both spouses' signature (uncontested divorce) at the time of spouse B's death. Spouse B's brother, T.V., will be signing releases for the various physicians Spouse B had seen in the past year, both in Missouri and Colorado, attaching the death certificate to the releases. T.V. is listed as the informant of Spouse B's death on the death certificate. T.V. is the only person listed on admitting documents at the Medical Center of Aurora.
Spouse B died intestate, as far as we know. T.V. requested that an autopsy be done but we don't have that yet. Additionally, Spouse B's health insurance lapsed effective May 31, 2016, but I will be trying to get it reinstated due to arguably various Qualifying Life Events (QLE).
1. Is Spouse A liable for Spouse B's medical bills if we can't get health insurance reinstated?
2. Because Spouse A was the cause for Spouse B to seek medical care in some instances, does the DV have any effect on Spouse A's responsibility to pay for some/all of the doctor visits?
3. Is Spouse A required to give T.V. half of any marital assets after spouse B died? Or since the divorce had not been filed, does Spouse A just keep Spouse B's half of their home and other assets?
4. Spouse B had told me and T.V. that he had a substantial life insurance policy, that Spouse A had been the sole beneficiary, but Spouse B was going to or did change the beneficiary to T.V. after Spouse B fled to Colorado. We have been unable to locate any documentation regarding life insurance. There might be a contact listed in Spouse B's phone, but we can't get it unlocked and after several tries to determine the password, the phone locked. We have not reviewed Spouse B's email, but I believe T.V. has been able to access his brother's e-mail -- but that's for tomorrow. Q: I have contacted the National Association of Insurance Commissioners - NAIC - to see if they can help locate the policy, after certain steps are taken, e.g., sending them a copy of the death certificate. Spouse A told his lawyer there was no life insurance. However, I witnessed Spouse B talking about the life insurance policy when they both were at dinner at our house in 2008, before they left for Missouri. Any suggestions for locating the policy?
5. Are Missouri physicians mandated to report suspected DV to police? I will review - hopefully - the medical records in both states to see if the physicians reference DV and whether they were going to report it or not. It's possible Spouse B requested that it not be reported.
6. Spouse B told more than one person that T.V. would be "taken care of" after Spouse B died, if he died before T.V. Spouse B indicated that he had a bank account that Spouse A didn't know about that listed T.V. as beneficiary in the event of his death. We have been able to locate that account. Spouse A closed Spouse B's bank accounts, after retrieving the assets for himself, after Spouse B left. We would like to find out where those accounts were and how much was in them but Spouse A has been unresponsive to my requests, and evidently Spouse A's attorney is disinterested in 'encouraging' Spouse A to disclose this information. Q: I'm an attorney but don't do domestic relations. Is there some sort of legal action I could pursue through a Missouri DR attorney to subpoena these records? Additionally, two paychecks from Spouse B's Colorado job (after he moved back) went to their address in Kansas City and Spouse A allegedly cashed them and kept the money. Is there any fraud action we could take through a Missouri attorney or make a report to legal authorities in KC?
7.T.V. doesn't make much money, but certainly isn't indigent because he has held the same job for 23 years. He might be able to pay an attorney something, but perhaps there are pro bono/low cost KC attorneys?
I have many more puzzles to solve, but this is enough for now. Thank you if you can help guide me.
Betty Wytias, Esq. (###) ###-####
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
1) If they were legally married, then first Spouse B's estate (property and bank accounts) left behind is liable to pay the medical bills and then the surviving spouse is liable for the medical bills. Spouse A cannot take any assets from the estate until all debts of the estate are paid off.
2) If the surviving spouse caused the injury that led to death of spouse B, then you need to contact the police and have spouse A charged and prosecuted. However, as far as being cause of injury that caused the medical bills that would not really be why he would be liable, as surviving spouse he would be liable.
3) TV, decedent's brother, is not entitled to be an heir of the estate. The surviving spouse is the heir of the estate since no divorce had been filed.
4) If the beneficiary had not actually been changed by the decedent, then the policy would have to go to the named beneficiary as long as they were not divorced. There really is no national registry of insurance policies, so without knowing the company or finding some papers in your brother's documents, it is really a very difficult task to find information on these policies.
5) Missouri and other states all require a medical professional to report suspected or known domestic violence. If they fail to report domestic violence then they actually could be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense.
6) Bank accounts can typically be located by doing a credit report check on the decedent and also by looking at their income tax forms. Otherwise, those can be as difficult to find as the insurance policy. Also, if you are named as beneficiary, surviving spouse could not get that account. The problem is that if you are not named beneficiary then again, surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary/heir to everything.
7) If he needs a low cost attorney in KCMO, he would need to contact the MO bar association and they would have a list of attorneys who can assist clients who are not able to afford full cost fees.