When people in Massachusetts get divorced, they likely know that they need to change any existing estate plan that is already in place. They may change their wills, designate new beneficiaries or review their health care directives. But what happens to a person’s estate if he or she dies before the divorce is finalized? Though that scenario sounds far-fetched, it can happen, and is actually the case for the estate of Ric Ocasek, former lead singer of the band The Cars.
Ocasek was married to model Paulina Porizkova for 30 years. They started their divorce back in 2018, but hadn’t finalized matters by the time he died in September of this year. He decided to update his will before he underwent surgery, with new terms that established four of his six children as the only beneficiaries of his estate, meaning that he didn’t want Porizkova to inherit anything. He also stated specifically in the will that Porizkova “abandoned” him. The use of that specific word may mean that Porizkova cannot inherit any part of the estate.
Even with that language in Ocasek’s newest will, Porizkova may still have a claim to some of Ocasek’s estate. She was still living in the same house as Ocasek when he died, and was actually the person who found him after he had passed. A court will have to examine any evidence to determine whether Porizkova did desert Ocasek.
Though it happened in another state, the outcome of this particular case can serve as a warning for others in a similar situation. Those considering divorce need to know that estate planning is a difficult issue and may require the consult of an attorney with knowledge of this area of the law. Wills are a major component to an estate plan and deserve special attention from a professional. An estate planning attorney here in Massachusetts can offer the best advice for anyone with questions.