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Probate Lawyer Belgrade, MT

Probate Lawyer Belgrade, MTProbate Lawyer – Belgrade, MT

When you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want to have to deal with is the legal aspects of death and the tasks that the surviving family members must complete despite their grief. What can make a difficult chapter of life even more challenging is a scenario in which the deceased and their surviving spouse were in the process of ending their marriage at the time of death. This scenario may affect the probate process, inheritance eligibility and asset distribution. Probate laws can be confusing, and any one factor can affect the outcome. It’s therefore important to consult an experienced Belgrade, MT probate lawyer if you’re navigating the aftermath of a loss and the deceased was either intending to divorce or in the middle of a divorce at the time of death. The experienced team at Silverman Law Office, PLLC understands how to handle this scenario and we can be of service to you and your family at this time. 

Property that Has Been Left to an Ex-Spouse

An experienced probate lawyer Belgrade, MT residents rely on can clarify for you how the probate laws of Montana specifically may affect your case. Generally speaking, any gifts that a decedent has willed to an ex-spouse are automatically revoked by law. The assumption is that the will has not been updated since the time of the divorce and so if an individual wishes to gift their ex-spouse, they must specify this in the will in light of the decision to divorce.

The question may then be, if the gifts are otherwise automatically revoked, who is then eligible to inherit those gifts? Unless otherwise accounted for in the will (as detailed above), the distribution of the estate’s assets will proceed as if the ex-spouse is also deceased. Therefore, the pre-named alternate beneficiary will inherit those gifts and if no alternate is specified in the will, then the will’s designated “residuary beneficiary” will inherit them. If there is no residuary beneficiary, then the closest surviving relative will inherit.

It’s important to note that in some states, any gifts left to relatives of the ex-spouse will also be automatically revoked. That generally includes children of the ex-spouse. If you need to revise your estate plan in light of these challenges or you’re concerned that these general probate rules don’t reflect the wishes of a deceased loved one, please consult a Belgrade, MT probate lawyer for guidance. 

When the Ex-Spouse is Named as the Estate’s Executor

Most often, unless the will acknowledges the divorce and the desire to name the ex-spouse as the estate executor, their appointment, as with any gift bequeathed to them, is automatically revoked. Without an alternate designated in the will, the probate court will appoint an executor.

When the Divorce was not Yet Finalized

In many states, if the couple was still legally married, gifts bequeathed to the spouse will be recognized by a probate court as legitimate, even if a divorce was imminent. If the couple was permanently separated or legally separated, then the gifts are more likely to be automatically revoked and there may be grounds for an heir to contest the will. Know that every case is different and a probate lawyer Belgrade, MT trusts can help you clarify your situation. 

 

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