Another celebrity situation that points to an important lesson: until a divorce is final, you are still married. For Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian, still being legally married in Nevada means that Khloe is legally permitted to make medical decisions for the former NBA player, who has an address in Henderson, Nevada. They signed off on their divorce in July, but their matter has not yet been assigned to a judge in the Los Angeles court system, which apparently has a massive amount of cases waiting to be dealt with. It may take months, according to a court spokesperson, until this is completed; no hearings are even scheduled yet. Meanwhile, Lamar was found unconscious at a brothel in Nye County and was brought to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Another odd twist? Odom was not registered as a patient. Through federal laws designed to protect patient privacy, he has a right to be ‘shielded.’ Callers to the hospital asking if he is a patient were told that his information did not appear on the registry.

Who is legally permitted to make significant medical decisions for a spouse is explained in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “With open divorce case, Khloe Kardashian could be making Lamar Odom’s medical decisions.”

Nevada law spells out who will make medical decisions for patients who become incapacitated, which are sometimes called substituted judgment statutes. In the Silver State, spouses or registered domestic partners are first in line. If Odom does not have advanced directives, legal documents stating his health care choices, Khloe would be the one to make these decisions.

There are several types of advanced directives, including living wills and medical powers of attorney. These estate planning documents let individuals make their wishes known to family, friends, and health care professionals to avoid confusion in cases like Odom’s.

Odom may have an advanced directive which would apply. By signing an advanced directive, you select the individual you want making your decisions for you.

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office stated that Odom had been using cocaine and sexual performance enhancers in the days prior to being discovered unconscious at Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, about 90 minutes outside of Las Vegas. (Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution, and county regulations say that business licenses can be revoked if brothels have drug issues).

In addition to his 2009 and 2010 NBA Championships with the LA Lakers, Odom is known for being part of the Kardashian family. Khloe filed for divorce in 2013 after four years of marriage.

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