Former Motorhead musician leaves his divorced wife nothing in his will.

Phil Taylor, drummer for the rock band Motorhead, died recently and left his long-lost wife nothing in his estate, according to the Daily Mail in in “Motorhead drummer Phil Taylor snubs his ‘lost’ wife in his £1 million will.”

The public first learned about this wife in Taylor’s will in which he acknowledged her and claimed to not to have had contact with her since shortly after their marriage. Taylor had actually divorced Thera Ann Johnson about two weeks before his death. Although he was unable to find her to have divorce papers served upon her, the divorce was granted because the two had been separated for such a long time. Taylor’s two sisters will receive most of his estate.

Taylor passed away in the United Kingdom and that country’s laws will apply to his will. It is still useful, however, to understand what would happen in the U.S. in a similar situation.

Ordinarily, it is not possible to exclude a spouse from a will completely. A spouse who is excluded can accept that decision or he or she can choose to take a portion of the estate that is called a “spousal elective share.” The portion varies from state to state and often by the length of the marriage, but it is normally 50%.

An exception can often be made in cases where the surviving spouse has abandoned the deceased. The court can decide to not allow the spousal elective share because of abandonment. However, that is only if the couple was married at the time of death. In this case they had been previously divorced. As long as the divorce is valid, then the spousal elective share law does not apply.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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