This is motivated by a key plot point in a televised version of an Agatha Christie story "At Bertram's Hotel". Although I read the story several years ago, I don't remember if the original had the same plot point. If the time frame matters, Wikipedia says the TV versions are set in the '50s, the stories were set a decade or more earlier.

The first husband is murdered so he can't divulge the fact and mess up the inheritance she is about to get from the passing of seven years since the rich "husband" is lost in a plane over the ocean.

I was thinking she was not inheriting by operation of law due to being his legitimate wife, but by being identified in a will. There is no ambiguity as to who the will is referring to.

To repeat/clarify - woman marries husband 1 and separated without divorce. She later married husband 2 who, we assume, has never been married. The first marriage is not well known so she gets away with it.

Husband two missing for 7 years declared dead. His will leaves much to “his wife”. Since she is not his wife due to bigamy, does she inherit?

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    In the book, a young woman murdered her mother's first husband so as to not reveal her own illegitimacy and endanger her inheritance. It is explicitly pointed out that she was in no danger of that, she had been listed by name in the will.
    – Mary
    Jan 23 at 23:20
  • In the TV version the daughter murdered the first husband for the same reason but it was not pointed out that the daughter was named explicitly - of course the character wouldn’t know that before the reading of the will. Jan 24 at 3:59
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    One of the things that prompted my question is that we had our daughter listed as a beneficiary of out family trust with her maiden name and erroneous middle initial. Until it is fixed our attorney says we only have one daughter and there is no ambiguity as to whom we meant. In California. Jan 24 at 4:04
  • I'm not familiar with this story so please bear with me... Am I right in saying that Husband 1 makes a will naming his wife as beneficiary. Husband 1 dies without making a new will. The wife (now a widow) lawfully marries Husband 2? Or... is the wife in a bigamous marriage with Husband 2?
    – Rick
    Jan 24 at 13:03
  • @Rick. The second. Or she was. He died.
    – Mary
    Jan 24 at 13:20


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