Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Till Death Us Do Part?

I often pass over the opportunity to discuss celebrity divorce on this blog, however, Dennis Hopper's passing has brought up an interesting question about what happens if you have filed for divorce, but that divorce is not yet final when you or your spouse dies. Does your soon to be ex-spouse get more of your estate because you are still considered "married"? Dennis Hopper had a prenuptial agreement which states that his current wife, whom he filed for divorce from in January, will only be allowed to inherit any of his estate if they were married and living together at the time of his death. Therefore, the question in the probate court with respect to Hopper's estate will be whether the couple was living together at the time of Mr. Hopper's death. Every state is different when they are dealing with this issue, therefore, if you are in the process of a divorce, make sure that you update your will accordingly. Additionally, if you have concerns that your death may occur prior to the finalization of your divorce, motion the court to bifurcate your case to grant your divorce but reserve on the other issues so that your divorce can be granted. That way, if you were to die, you will die without a spouse and your former spouse will not inadvertently be entitled to more of your estate under probate/estate law rather than divorce/matrimonial law.

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