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Delaying divorce can lead to serious legal complications

Culinary icon Anthony Bourdain’s recent tragic death shocked the world and left his friends and family members grief-stricken. As a celebrity, details of his personal life have often made headline news, such as the fact that he and his second wife had started divorce proceedings some years ago that were never finalized. The situation is evidence of the importance of acting in a timely manner when one wishes to legally end a marriage. New Jersey residents currently worrying about complications that may arise when divorce proceedings are delayed may want to follow this case.

Bourdain and his second wife have a daughter together, who is now age 11. The couple filed for divorce in 2016 after telling reporters they had been living separate lives for years. Even though he had entered another relationship, his second wife is legally still his next of kin because their divorce was still pending when he died.

Estate planning issues would of course come into play in similar situations, such as whether a decedent had signed a final will and testament. Unless a specific asset were intended as inheritance for a particular person or people, the surviving spouse would likely retain ownership of all marital property. Estate plans often need to be updated after divorce, especially if someone wishes to exclude a party previously listed as a beneficiary or add new names to an estate plan.

If a divorce is left pending at the time of a spouse’s death, various legal complications or disputes may arise among family members and others who may claim to have a right to a portion of an estate. To avoid such problems, swift action is advisable. An experienced New Jersey family law attorney can work to expedite proceedings to help prevent situations like this.

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