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Elizabeth Edwards Leaves Husband out of Will

Elizabeth Edwards signed her last will several days before her death in December. That will made no mention of her estranged husband John Edwards. The couple had separated after it came to light that John Edwards had an affair and fathered a child with another woman.

Cate Edwards, their eldest child, was named executor of the estate. Elizabeth Edwards had numerous assets including real estate holdings and a trust, according to an article in The News and Observer. Because the details of the trust are not public, it is not known whether John Edwards is a beneficiary of that trust.

Had the couple been officially divorced, it would have likely been much easier for Elizabeth Edwards to disinherit her husband. Doing so while still married, even if estranged, can be a more complicated process. It may require a separate agreement or stipulation between the spouses.

Generally in the process of a divorce, wills and retirement or life insurance beneficiary designations are updated. This may not always mean that the ex-spouses are completely written out of each others' estate, but it does mean that whatever choices a person makes take into account their new situation.

For separated couples, even when there is a long term estrangement, individuals may not take steps to ensure that their will and other estate planning tools reflect any changes in their wishes. Divorce also terminates the application of certain laws that affect how spouses' estates or other death benefits are handled. When a couple is estranged these laws may still apply.

Source: News and Observer (NJ.COM) John Edwards not named in wife Elizabeth's will Jaunuary 6, 2011

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