Any question that makes it into the Jane Bryant Quinn column of the AARP Bulletin is interesting. And, frequently, important to many people. The question was: “I have a friend who was evicted from her home by her husband’s children (from an earlier marriage) when he died. Is that legal?”
The answer given was correct. But, the issue raised applies to more than just second marriages. It applies to any situation where the couple is living in the house owned solely by one party. Or even using a car, boat or checking account solely in the other party’s name. Here’s why:
If John and Mary are in a relationship and John dies, assets solely in John’s name are controlled by 1. His Last Will; 2. the Beneficiary Designation on his accounts; or, 3. the State Intestacy Statute. If John did not have his new wife in his Will, she probably won’t get anything! Did John add his new wife to the Beneficiary Card for his bank accounts, life insurance, etc.? If not, she won’t inherit.
If John and Mary ARE NOT MARRIED, it gets worse, from the survivor’s point of view. The boyfriend or girlfriend IS NOT ENTITLED TO INHERIT ANYTHING. No right to claim more of the decedent’s assets than any random stranger off the street!
AND WHAT HAPPENS IF JOHN JUST BECOMES INCAPACITATED? He didn’t die, just had a stroke/heart attack/car accident? If he hasn’t changed his will, he almost certainly hasn’t signed new Power of Attorneys. Now, Mary can’t even make medical decisions without arguing with John’s Health Care Agent. Can’t handle John’s business/finances without dealing with John’s Financial Agent.
So, if you are in a relationship or marriage, especially a second marriage, THE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM IS TO GET YOUR ESTATE DOCUMENTS DONE. Contact Estate Planning Attorney J. Eric Kindberg at Eric@KindbergEstateLaw.com or 704-507-6444, or some other good estate planning attorney. TODAY!