Rather than seeking divorce, a common trend among married couples is to remain married but permanently separated. While this may be comfortable on a personal basis, it does not mean that they lose their spousal rights and privileges.
Both fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain were separated from their spouses at the time of their tragic deaths, but as they were not divorced, their spouses will make all funeral arrangements, inherit all their property, and get custody of their children. Their “significant others” will be excluded.
You don’t like this? Then listen up!
Upon marriage, spouses are given rights previously unavailable to them as single persons. Without any legal document like a Will to say otherwise, or a Separation Agreement, a separated spouse may also be the primary beneficiary of the other spouse’s estate. Marriage also determines who receives Social Security benefits. If the couple is merely separated, rights and privileges may remain in place – only a valid decree of divorce or Separation Agreement can fully terminate spousal rights and protect you!
If you and your spouse are separated, you need to ensure a new Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney are in place. These documents lay out who makes business, health, or funeral decisions in the event of your injury, incapacity, or death.
Contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to ensure all proper procedures are followed. Work with your attorney to update your Will, and if a divorce or separation seems imminent, make sure your estate planning attorney is in communication with your family lawyer to protect your full rights.
Call (614) 241-2181 today
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We are available 24 hours a day, every day. We will answer your questions and help you make the right decision about how to proceed.