March 17, 2011

New Case Law – Life Insurance Requirement in Judgment

On March 16, 2011, the Oregon Court Appeals issued and opinion in McIntire v. Lang.  The opinion can be read at
Petitioners appeal from a judgment of the probate court declaring that respondent’s claim against the
estate of Heather McIntire, respondent’s ex-wife, is valid, imposing a constructive trust over the estate’s assets for the purpose of securing payment of the claim, and authorizing the personal representative of  the estate to partially pay the claim.  Petitioners argue that respondent’s claim is not valid and that the court thus erred in imposing a constructive trust.  Held:  The stipulated judgment dissolving respondent’s marriage to the decedent obligated the decedent to obtain life insurance for the purpose of securing payment of support obligations.  It also provided that, if the decedent violated the insurance requirement, a constructive trust would be imposed over her estate to secure payment of the insurance obligation.  Thus, respondent has a property interest in the estate and is entitled to a constructive trust.  Affirmed

What is interesting about the ruling is that the judgment specifically said that the life insurance provision was for the purpose of securing both parties’ support obligations.  Neither party had a support obligation.  The Court of Appeals, none the less, found that the obligation still existed.  This case shows the long term implications of agreements reached in judgments.  It is crucial that your attorney informs you of the long term effects of your judgment and that your attorney is up to date with current case law.

The lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP strive to assist their clients in understanding the long range implications of their agreements.