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Can’t Divorce Your Spouse In Your Will

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - What do you call your ‘almost ex’ in your will?

Latin American music and TV star Jenni Rivera died tragically in a plane crash in December. At the time of her death, she was in the process of divorcing her third husband (who says only Hollywood stars have cornered the market on relationship drama?) and had left detailed instructions for her sister to take over the management of her $25 million business, her estate, and care for her two minor children.

Good thing she thought ahead. Too bad her plan probably won’t be followed. Why? Because you know another name for an almost divorced spouse? The one I can say on air is: A spouse.

Until the divorce is final, her soon-to-be-ex was still her husband at the time of her death and under US law in 49 out of 50 states you can’t cut a spouse out of your will.

The answer to your next question is: Louisiana.

But in all other states including California where Jenni Rivera lived, even if you write your lousy but current spouse out of your will, he still has a right to take the part of your estate that he would have gotten if you hadn’t had a will – in most states between a third and half of all your property.

So it’s extremely important to make your final wishes known. But it’s also really important to make them known in divorce court if they don’t include your current spouse.