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Can a person cut their spouse out of their will?

In September, rock and roll legend Ric Ocasek passed away in his mid-seventies. Ocasek suffered from a number of heart-related illnesses and was recovering from surgery when he died of natural causes. He was found by his wife, model Paulina Porizkova, from whom he had been estranged since 2017.

While at first this story may sound like a sad tale of love and loss in Hollywood, Michigan residents should be aware that this story has a complicated twist: Ocasek left Porizkova out of his will. Porizkova learned of the will after Ocasek's death, and, in the document, Ocasek claimed that his wife had abandoned him.

It is not often that a will states that a decedent wishes to prevent their spouse from inheriting from them. However, since Ocasek and Porizkova were in the process of divorcing, it may be that Ocasek wanted to prepare for the end of their relationship on the chance he passed away. Whether a person can effectively do this depends on whether the state in which they live recognizes community property or equitable division of assets during divorce and if the will stands up to other challenges regarding its execution and contents.

Ocasek and Porizkova shared two adult sons, and Ocasek also had several other children. As his family grieves his loss, they will likely have questions regarding how his will should be executed. This post is not provided as legal advice and should not be used as legal guidance. Support from an estate planning attorney can help individuals facing this and other challenging will and probate questions.

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