A New York Police Department officer disinherited his wife from his $810,000 pension before committing suicide. He named his lover as his beneficiary instead.
After community affairs officer Mike Smith killed himself in his apartment on March 7, 2017, his estranged wife, Elizabeth Ann Morehouse, and girlfriend, Lt. Zoya Golubeva, were left to quarrel over his NYC Police Pension Fund, reports the New York Post.
Smith was living apart from his wife and just broken up by his girlfriend when the 48-year-old shot himself in the forehead.
Before his death he handed Golubeva a note as she was moving out his apartment. He wrote:
I love you more than you'll ever know.
Days before the suicide, he had just filed retirement. A pension statement was found on a counter near his body.
Morehouse was Smith's death-benefit beneficiary, until he secretly had it changed 11 months before his death.
Changing the names prevented his wife and 14-year-old daughter from obtaining his $810,000 death benefit. The couple was married for 14 years. Morehouse told the New York Post:
“That money should go to my daughter — he's her father.”
Smith’s teen daughter said Golubeva shouldn't get to keep her father’s retirement money. She said:
“She was leaving Daddy. She wanted nothing to do with him. Why does she think she’s entitled to his money?”
Her mother only discovered the pension fund changed by opening her husband's mail.
According to New York state law, disinherited spouses are not protected, nor do they have a right to be notified when a spouse changes their beneficiary.
Morehouse has filed a “right of election.” She can collect a third of the benefits, totaling $270,000. Golubeva would collect the remaining $540,000.
According to a former executive director of New York City Employees' Retirement System (NYCERS) John Murphy said:
“This kind of thing has gone on forever. It’s soap opera stuff all the time. They fall in love with someone else and want to leave the money to them."
Smith's sister, Kathleen Carrano, said Golubeva believed his daughter should inherit his retirement fund.
However, according to Morehouse, it's been 16 months since her husband's death and his girlfriend has not returned any of the money to his family.
Golubeva declined to comment on Smith’s death with New York Post.