Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. has made available for download their article, “Can a Marriage Be Annulled After One Spouse’s Death?”, published in JDSUPRA. The abstract is as follows:
Marriage is supposed to be “until death do us part,” but after one spouse dies, is it possible for a court to declare a marriage invalid (annulled)? It can happen, as a Nebraska widower recently learned, but only in certain circumstances.
Marriage provides benefits to a surviving spouse. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive an elective share of the deceased spouse’s estate. The amount of the share depends on state law, but it is usually around 30 percent. A spouse can claim an elective share even if there is a will that leaves the spouse fewer assets. This can lead to conflict between surviving spouses and other heirs.
If a spouse gets married shortly before he or she dies, questions can arise as to the legitimacy of the marriage. Heirs may attempt to invalidate the marriage to prevent the surviving spouse from recovering from the estate. The heirs can challenge a marriage after one spouse has died only if the marriage is considered “void.” A marriage is void if it wasn’t legally entered into in the first place.
Posted by Marin Larkin, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.