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In re Soper’s Estate

Minnesota Supreme Court
196 Minn. 60 (1935)


After ten years of marriage, Ira Collins Soper secretly left his wife Adeline Johnson Westphal (plaintiff) in Louisville, Kentucky and moved to Minnesota. At the time he disappeared Ira’s vehicle was found at the bank of a nearby canal along with portions of his clothes and hat. Inside the vehicle were several notes leading Adeline to believe that Ira had committed suicide. While in Minnesota, Ira assumed the name John W. Young, purchased a successful fuel business with an acquaintance, and married Gertrude Whitby (defendant). Shortly thereafter Ira, as John W. Young, purchased a life insurance policy which provided that all proceeds were to go to “the surviving wife” upon his death. After his death many years later, proceeds from the life insurance policy were given to Gertrude as the surviving wife. When Adeline learned of this she filed suit in state court to recover the insurance money. The trial court held for Gertrude and Adeline appealed.

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