A very interesting ruling out of Wisconsin this week on assisted suicide and inheritance. Judge Margaret Vergeront ruled that Linda Schunk, and youngest child, Megan, may inherit the estate of Edward Schunk, 63, even if they assisted him in killing himself. Schunk effectively disinherited six of his children and left most everything to Linda and Megan before committing suicide at a cabin with their alleged help. This led to a family row over the role of Linda and Megan allegedly in enriching themselves by arming Ed.
Edward Schunk was terminally ill with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and shot himself in 2006 in a cabin on his property. He left an estate valued at nearly $500,000.
Wisconsin law prohibits anyone who “intentionally kills” another from inheriting from the person. Yet, the three-judge appellate panel saw a distinction here: “Providing (the man) with a loaded shotgun did not deprive him of his life: he deprived himself of life by shooting himself with the shotgun.
He left virtually nothing to his six other children — five of whom are challenging the will. They have argued that Linda and Megan facilitated his death to collect the money. They insist that they did not assist him and that he said that he wanted the gun to go turkey hunting.
The Court ruled that it didn’t matter and that, even if they assisted him, they could still recover.
Megan Schunk’s lawyer, Terry Moore, called it a “one-in-a-million situation.” Well, it was at least a one in a half million situation for the Schunks. What is fascinating is that handing a gun to a suicidal person was criminally charged recently in another case, here.
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