Does a mistress have a legal claim on an estate?

Per this story below. Does a long time mistress have any legal claim on a person’s estate if she is not provided for in the will?

Mistress wants $8.7 million slice of baker Grebe’s estate

I don’t know, but Charles Kuralt’s sweetie got some of his estate.

If you are not in the will, tough cookies. You can try to sue, but I don’t think anybody is gauranteed to get a slice.

isn’t there such a thing as palimony, or has that been struck out?

Didn’t Charles Kuralt father children by his mistress? That probably had a significant effect on the court’s decision.

from it appears that under Californian precedent a mistress is not eligible for anything

…In Taylor v. Fields, the plaintiff, Taylor, had a relationship with a married man, Leo, for 42 years. After Leo died Taylor sued his widow, alleging breach of an agreement by Leo to take care of Taylor financially.

…As the Court of Appeal correctly pointed out, the relationship alleged by Taylor was “nothing more than that of a legally married man and his mistress.” Id. at 658. The alleged contract rested on meretricious consideration and was unenforceable.

Palimony involves two living persons. Similar to alimony, it’s an award granted if you lived together as a couple without the benefit of matrimony (especially if it was a same sex relationship).

Courts are not in the habit of nullifying someone’s will. The usual exceptions are when a person leaves his spouse or kids (including illegitimate ones) out of a will.

As the relationship in question was illicit until the death of Grebe’s wife in 2001, I doubt this woman will get anything from the estate outside of a small settlement. She’s already been offered $10K and a car - she’d better take it. I don’t see the courts awarding her millions for being an adulteress for 20 years.

Yep, Taylor v. Fields is the seminal case on this matter. The mistress was basically saying “I had sex with him for 42 years and he promised me he’d take care of me when he was gone.” Sex can’t be consideration for a promise - that’s prostitution. This is really one of those “public policy” decisions more than anything else.

The last sentence appears to be the key to her claim. If she can show that those parties exerted an undue influence on the testator that overpowered his mind and free will and prevented him from including her in his will, or that there was fraud on the part of those who induced him to execute the will, she may have a case. Even if she can’t establish that she was his common law wife she may still have a claim on one of these grounds.

and she knew he was married, she doesn’t deserve anything but shame.

IIRC, Charles Kuralt named his mistress in his will. I assume that would make a difference between his case and this one.

This does not belong in General Questions, Mothchunks.


The article indicates that Mary Ellen Nowinski took care of him as a common-law wife after the death of his legal wife. There is also a claim the pair “worked together in booths sponsored by Grebe’s Bakeries at both Summerfest and the State Fair”. She might have a chance at the money, if he was her job. Interesting that the will did not mention the legal wife, only the children. When the will was written, the wife was still alive. Nowinski might be able to successfully argue there was an intent to change the will and he did not get to it before the heart surgery. Twenty years and changed circumstances are in her favor.
Of course, it all really depends on how good her lawyer is.