In the most recent edition of NW Lawyer, family law and probate attorneys discuss the ramifications (and results) of the death of a spouse in the midst of a dissolution proceeding. There are many misunderstandings about what happens to property (both community and separate property) when parties are estranged yet still legally married.
One common misconception is that the surviving spouse, estranged or not, automatically gets all the parties' assets. Often this is the case, but it can be dependent on whether or not the decedent had a will or died without a valid will. If there is a will, then the provisions of the will control, including provisions regarding personal representatives and surviving spouses.
The authors also point out the importance of reviewing and revising estate planning documents upon the completion of divorce proceedings.
To get more information on marriage dissolution, property rights, and/or estate planning and the preparation of a will, power of attorney, health care directive, or trust documents, contact Laurie Ummel, Geoff Gibbs, Amy Allison, or Jeff Capeloto today.