Recent headlines have covered the death of rock star and musician Ric Ocasek, who excluded his wife of nearly 30 years, model Paulina Porizkov, from inheriting any of his assets. In addition to feelings of loss and betrayal, under the terms of Ocasek’s will, Porizkov will not inherit her spouse’s money or other assets.
The death of a family member or loved one is a very stressful time. For the surviving spouse to find out that they were cut from their spouse’s estate and will not inherit any money or other assets, it can be a shock and frightening. What can a spouse do if they find they were excluded from their spouse’s will? Do surviving spouses have any recourse?
To protect the legal rights of spousal couples, the courts have ruled that the surviving spouse can renounce or reject the will. A skilled probate litigation attorney can fight to protect your rights and your interests if you were excluded from your spouse’s will and work to resolve the legal conflicts as efficiently as possible.
If the surviving spouse discovers they were not provided for in their spouse’s estate, the spouse has 90 days after probate finishes to renounce, or reject, the will and instead refer to Illinois intestacy laws to receive their legal share of the estate. Under 755 ILCS 5/2-8, if the surviving spouse renounces the will, they will be entitled to receive 1/3 of the probate estate if the deceased had any descendants and 1/2 if there are no descendants.
The right of renunciation does not apply to assets that have a named beneficiary such as life insurance proceeds and individual retirement accounts.
Estate litigation often involves complex procedures and the application of specific laws. If you believe your spouse’s estate proceedings are tainted in some way, or if someone in your family is challenging terms of a will, trust, or other estate documents, it may be wise to consult a well-practiced estate litigation attorney to find out how to protect your rights and your interests. To schedule a consultation, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.