Austin Texas Estate Planning Blog

Can a Hubby-Killer Still Inherit in Utah

Can a Hubby-Killer Still Inherit in Utah?

July 9, 2023 • | Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC
A Kamas woman claims the prenuptial agreement she signed with her husband — whom she is accused of killing — is still valid and she should receive at least half of the equity from the nearly $2 million home they lived in together.

Thirty-three-year-old Kouri Darden Richins filed a civil lawsuit against the estate of her deceased husband, 39-year-old Eric Richins, in Utah. The question at hand is whether an alleged killer inherit from their victim.

KSL’s recent article, “Kamas woman charged with killing her husband files civil suit against his estate,” reports that she’s in the Summit County Jail charged with aggravated murder and accused of secretly giving her husband a fatal dose of fentanyl. Criminal proceedings revealed information about Kouri Richins’ debt and financial disagreements with her husband.

In September 2020, Eric discovered his wife got and spent $250,000 on a home equity line of credit for the Utah home that he owned before their marriage. She withdrew over $100,000 from his bank accounts and spent more than $30,000 on his credit cards.

Ms. Richins had also “been appropriating distributions made from Eric Richins’ business for the purpose of making federal and state quarterly tax payments and not paying the taxes. The stolen tax payments totaled at least $134,346,” the charges allege. Eric confronted his wife about this, and she agreed to repay him, police said.

Without Kouri’s knowledge, Eric consulted a divorce lawyer and an estate planning lawyer in October 2020 and changed his will to form the “Eric Richins Living Trust,” investigators say. This placed his estate under the control of his sister for the benefit of his three children, and it transferred his partnership interest in his business to the trust.

The civil lawsuit filed earlier this month concerns the home the couple purchased in 2013 in Francis, Utah, for $400,000.

“Although Eric and Kouri jointly purchased the family home, jointly paid the mortgage, jointly paid the utilities, and otherwise agreed and acted in all respects as if the family home was a joint marital asset, legal title to the family home has remained solely in Eric’s name since its acquisition, with equitable title being held jointly by Kouri and Eric, and subsequently Eric’s trust,” the lawsuit states.

Kouri said that she’s paid for nearly all expenses for the home on her own since her husband died and that the home now has a value of about $1.9 million. She argues that the house is a joint marital asset, and the prenup she signed before their marriage remains in effect.

“Kouri is entitled to half of all equity in the family home,” the lawsuit contends. “Alternatively, if she is not entitled to half of all the equity, she is at least entitled to half of the increase in equity value that occurred after her marriage to Eric.”

Lawyers for Eric’s estate assert it has sole ownership over the home, while Kouri contends she and the estate own the house as “tenants in common.”

Although Texas does not have a slayer law, your experienced Austin estate planning attorney can certainly add language into your estate planning documents that would ensure that your slayer will not inherit from you. Book a call today!

Reference: KSL (June 15, 2023) “Kamas woman charged with killing her husband files civil suit against his estate”

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