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Separation Can Challenge Estate Plan

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Jul 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

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Spouse retains full rights to estate, unless there is a divorce.

There were two deaths in the celebrity world recently that involved separations, highlighting a peculiar issue in estate law, according to Forbes in "Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain And Estate Planning When You Are Separated."

The deaths were of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who committed suicide while being separated from their spouses. If Spade and Bourdain had gotten divorces, then their spouses would not be entitled to any portion of their estates. If the spouses were included in the estate plan, they would be constructively written out by a court. However, that does not happen when a couple is separated.

The spouse of the deceased retains full rights to the estate. That means if there is no estate plan, the spouse will normally receive the entire estate through the laws of intestate succession. If there is an estate plan, then the spouse receives anything the plan says he or she gets. If the spouse does not receive enough of the total assets of the estate, then the spouse can elect to take his or her spousal elective share (the amount varies between states).

Reference: Forbes (June 12, 2018) "Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain And Estate Planning When You Are Separated."

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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