When The Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek died on September 15, 2019, he was in the midst of a divorce from his wife of 30 years, former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Paulina Porizkova. In New York, where the couple lived, a divorce in progress does not necessarily terminate the rights of the surviving spouse to inherit. However, weeks before his death, Ocasek reportedly signed a new Will in which he excluded Porizkova as well as two of their six children.
Normally, state law gives omitted spouses the right to elect against the Will and claim a share of the estate assets. These “elective share” provisions are designed to protect surviving spouses from vindictive husbands and wives. However, it has been reported that the updated Will Ocasek signed stated that Porizkova had abandoned Ocasek and, as a result, should no longer be entitled to inherit any assets from his estate. That inclusion of the “abandonment” language was apparently intended to specifically restrict Porizkova from claiming any elective share otherwise available to an omitted spouse under state law.
While Ocasek’s executor will likely use the language of the new Will to try to fight any attempts by Porizkova to claim an estimated $1.7 million share of her deceased husband’s estate, the ultimate determination of how to divide his estate will be up to a probate court judge. Regardless of what the ultimate outcome is, it looks like Porizkova’s share (if any) will be significantly less than it otherwise would have been. That’s because Ocasek had the foresight to update his Will before his divorce was finalized — something that’s usually not on the radar of people going through divorce.
At the Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center, we are passionate about helping people make sure their estate plans reflect their current wishes. To create or update your estate planning documents, schedule a consultation with us today!