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Wife barred from inheritance because of adulterous relationship

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that a woman’s relationship outside of her marriage prevents her from inheriting from her deceased husband’s estate.

Renada Fay Hannebaum moved out of the marital residence she shared with Stephen Hannebaum on Aug. 1, 2007, and later filed for divorce. The divorce was never finalized, and Stephen died intestate in April 2011.

Renada paid for the funeral and asked the court to name her personal representative. Stephen’s son and mother objected, and they were appointed as personal representatives. The trial court determined that Renada forfeited her right to inherit from Stephen’s estate.

She argued that the evidence didn’t establish that she was living in adultery at the time of Stephen’s death and that she voluntarily abandoned him.

Senior Judge Randall T. Shepard pointed out that the evidence, when looked at together, suggests Renada had a sexual relationship with Doug Wilson. She admitted to dating him after separating from her husband, she said she spent some nights alone with him at his home, and a private investigator testified he saw her enter Wilson’s home through the garage by punching in a code.

Renada also argued she left the home to escape abuse, but the only identified instance of abuse before the trial court occurred after she had already moved out.

“As for whether Renada left Stephen permanently rather than temporarily, we think that a court can find permanent departure where, as here, a spouse leaves the marital residence, files for dissolution, and remains away for roughly four years, notwithstanding the fact that a final decree of dissolution had not been issued,” Shepard wrote in In the Matter of the Estate of Stephen T. Hannebaum, Deceased, Renada Fay Hannebaum v. Mary Rebecca Hannebaum and Stephen T. Hannebaum, II, as Personal Representatives of Stephen T. Hannebaum, 81A05-1301-ES-17.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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