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Rocker's death may lead to battle over elective share

The estate of famed rock singer Ric Ocasek, who performed for The Cars and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just last year, is now reportedly heading for a legal battle following his death in September 2019.

The rocker had been married to the same spouse for almost 30 years. They continued to share the same home even though they were in the process of divorcing. The rocker had updated his will prior to his death. Specifically, in light of the pending divorce, he cut his spouse out of the will, leaving her nothing. He also used certain language in the will to suggest she was not even entitled to the so-called elective share, although whether she is so entitled will ultimately be up to the judge who hears the case. If the woman does manage to assert her right to the elective share, then she may still be able to recover well over $1.5 million dollars from the property of the estate, even though the will says she is not to inherit anything.

Although this case will likely be heard in a neighboring state, New Jersey also has a law which allows a spouse to collect an inheritance from a will even if the person who died intentionally excluded his or her spouse from inheriting the estate. While someone who is legally married or in a domestic partnership is entitled to approximately one-third of an estate without regard to the will, there is an exception for spouses who were living apart or otherwise behaving as if they were divorced.

Because issues about the elective share can be complicated, it is often advisable for a family facing such an issue to seek out the assistance of an experienced probate litigation attorney. Only then can they rest assured that their position will be adequately represented at the negotiation table and in the courtroom.

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