By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Friday, March 24, 2017.
It is an extremely common practice for husbands and wives to execute simple Wills, during their marriage, providing that everything they each own should pass to the other spouse upon death. The Wills are often mirror images of each other; and, so long as the marriage remains strong, there generally is no problem.
However, if the love and mutual trust, that is inherent in a successful marriage, begins to weaken, there is absolutely nothing in the law that prevents one spouse from deciding that he/she wants to dispose of his/her estate in a different manner, i.e., leave the money or property to someone other than his/her spouse. There is no legal requirement that the unsuspecting spouse be given any notice at all of this intended change in Wills.
Similarly, when spouses decide to separate from each other, and the marriage is proceeding toward a divorce, perhaps the last thing that either spouse wants is to die before a divorce, and have his/her Will operate to leave everything to the surviving spouse – who is in the process of being divorced!
The necessity to make appropriate changes in one’s Will is often overlooked among the multitude of emotional, and practical, issues that are attendant to a separation. Unfortunately, though, a failure to modify a prior Will where your marital situation changes, can have devastating, albeit unintended, consequences.
If you find yourself in a marital situation that may be headed toward a divorce, contact one of the attorneys at Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C. for a complimentary, 30-minute telephone consultation at (703) 591-7475.