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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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