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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  JA Mentor. I run my own practice that specializes in Estate Preparation and Administration
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My sister passed away unexpectedly last week. Our parents are both deceased, and I am her

Customer Question

My sister passed away unexpectedly last week. Our parents are both deceased, and I am her only living sibling. As such, being her next-of-kin, I am responsible for her funeral arrangements, etc. She had been apart from her (ex) husband for at least 10 years as he was incarcerated. She was afraid of him, he was abusive, etc. so she had moved on. Upon hearing of her death, the ex-husband resurfaced, likely to collect benefits as apparently they were never divorced. He has not come forward to take any financial responsibility for her funeral arrangements. It's obvious that he wants no financial responsibility but he expects benefits. Is he entitled, or is there anything in the law about a period of abandonment nullifying the marriage, or is he still entitled to her benefits? My sister lived in California, but I believe they were married in Kansas.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.
My condolences to you on your loss. The answer that I will provide will not be favorable so I ask that you do not blame the messenger. There is no ability to void the marriage automatically through abandonment. If your sister never divorced, he is the closest next of kin and he receives her assets (if any) if they never had children. And yes, he would still be entitled to her benefits because under law they are still married. It is possible to use the reason of abandonment as a means to obtain a divorce, but a judge still has to sign off on it for the divorce to be married. So there is no grey area here, if someone is not divorced (even if separated), they are deemed married and are fully entitled to all benefits.
Dimitry, Esq.