Family Law Case Review: Husband’s Real Estate Improperly Excluded from Marital Estate

Case: Amy L. Falatovics v. Imre L. Falatovics
Case Summary by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: Husband’s interests in two parcels of real estate, subject to a life estate belonging to Husband’s mother, were improperly excluded from the marital estate.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
In 2005, while the parties were married, Husband’s parents conveyed by quitclaim deed two parcels of real estate in LaPorte County to Husband and his brother “as joint tenants with rights of survivorship,” and subject to life estates in favor of Husband’s parents.

Wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage from Husband in 2013. By then, Husband’s father was deceased, but Husband’s mother continued to hold her life estate in the parcels. The parties agreed that Husband’s interests in the properties were worth $76,700 and $30,000, respectively.

In issuing its final Decree, the trial court concluded that Husband’s interests in the properties did not constitute marital property because “Husband will never possess this land if he predeceases his mother; or if he predeceases his brother [and he has not] invested any money, labor, or time into the real estate.” Wife appealed the Decree.

The Court of Appeals noted that the facts of this case are very similar to the 1999 Moyars case. There, the Court of Appeals had previously held that a remainder interest, subject to a life estate, is not “too remote” and thus should be considered marital property. One distinction in the instant case is that Husband’s remainder interest was held jointly with Husband’s brother. But the Court of Appeals agreed with Wife that this was a distinction without any real difference.

The trial court’s order was reversed and remanded to include Husband’s interests in these parcels in the marital estate, and to redistribute assets as appropriate.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Amy L. Falatovics v. Imre L. Falatovics

_________________________________________________________________________________

James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Leave a Reply