We sometimes wonder if rock-n-roll stars really live the lifestyle they sing about. In the case of the Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek, the answer would be yes. His songs like She’s Gone and Bye, Bye Love reflect how he handled his estate planning. Let me explain.
Ric Ocasek died unexpectedly on September 15, 2019 at his New York City apartment at age 75. He had been married to his third wife for 28 years. However, they had been separated for 3 years prior to his death. She revealed that they were still living together at the time of his death. So, what did Ric Ocasek do to protect his property from his estranged wife? He cut her out of his will. He sang the lyric “you might think I foolish,” but I would have to disagree.
Page Six reported that Ric Ocasek’s will was recently filed for probate in New York. It stated, “I have made no provision for my wife Paulina Porizkova (“Paulina”) as we are in the process of divorcing.” He even clarified that “Even if I should die before our divorce is final. . . Paulina is not entitled to any elective share . . . because she has abandoned me.”
As an estate planning attorney, I cannot help but smile. I smile because a person was forward thinking enough to take steps for what he felt was appropriate to protect his assets. I have no opinion on whether it was morally correct, but from a legal perspective it was impressive.
I am not licensed in New York, so I cannot opine on whether the will’s provisions will be upheld. Texas is a community property state. That means each spouse owns an undivided one half of all the marital property. Each spouse can only give away their half of the property. For example, if a car is marital property and the husband writes in his will that he gives the car to his son, the husband can only give his half of the car away. Therefore, the wife will own half the car.
What can a surviving spouse do in this situation? If a will does not provide any property to the surviving spouse or does not provide adequate property to the surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse may elect to override the will under the doctrine of election. In other words, the surviving spouse can elect to be co-owner of the car or can allow the son to have all of the car and accept other property.
In the case like Ric Ocasek's where the husband says his wife receives no property under his will, under Texas law he is really saying he is not giving his half of the property to his wife and not giving any of his separate property to his wife. When the surviving spouse has abandoned the deceased spouse, then an argument can be made to defeat the surviving spouse's election against the will.
The fact that Ric Ocasek thought that far ahead about his personal relationship can be juxtaposed against Luke Perry who recently died without mentioning his fiancé in a will. A lesson to be learned from these two tragic deaths is that it is important to make changes to your estate planning documents when you have a change in your life such as marriage, separation, divorce, or birth of a child.
There will likely be a dispute over Ric Ocasek’s will, but in his own words, “Let the Good Times Roll.”
Contact us at the Law Office of Hugh Spires, Jr., PLLC for a free consultation by calling 210-874-5700 or emailing hspires@TexasWillsLawyer.com.