Archive for November, 2013

Can my spouse refuse to get a divorce?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Sometimes I have people come into the office and they tell me that they want a divorce, but their spouse refuses.  Sometimes it is because of religious beliefs and sometimes just because they like things the way they are.  Or sometimes it is because the other spouse doesn’t want to share any of the marital assets.  And sometimes it is because the other parent thinks that staying together until the children are out of the house will be better for the children.

Whatever the reason, this is one version of a contested divorce.

In the past, one spouse could refuse to get a divorce, but that is no longer the case.  If one spouse wants a divorce, it will happen…eventually.  But it won’t necessarily happen quickly or inexpensively.

I’ve often seen a divorce take over 4 years to be completed and include numerous court hearings and very large attorney bills.

If you want to get a divorce, and your spouse refuses, you really need to have an attorney.  This is not a case you can handle on your own.

If you have questions about this, or any other legal subject, please feel free to contact the office at 757-234-4650 to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

I have my dead mom’s Power Of Attorney, can I sell her house?

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

I have had a few questions lately from people who say they have a Power Of Attorney for their parent and the parent recently died.  Usually, they want to know if they can use that Power Of Attorney to sell their parent’s house.

A Power Of Attorney allows the agent to do anything that the principal can do.  In the situation above, the child was named as the agent and the parent was the principal.

If we think about it logically, a principal can’t do anything after they have died, and that is exactly what happens with the Power Of Attorney.  It dies with the principal.

The next question is ‘what happens to the house?’  That would depend.

If the house was deeded with some sort of survivorship option, then the house would belong to the survivor automatically and would not be considered as part of the deceased’s estate.

If there was a Will, the Will would describe what would happen to assets in the deceased’s estate, including the house if that was part of the estate.

If there was not a Will, the statutes covering intestate (without a Will) division of property would control.  In Virginia, the house would then go to the legal heirs of the decedent.

The Virginia probate process is relatively easy in comparison to some other states.  You can contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the jurisdiction (city or county) where the deceased lived and the probate clerk can often be of great assistance.  Or, you can contact a probate attorney to help with the situation.

But remember that after the person dies, the Power Of Attorney terminates automatically and is no longer effective at all.  Having a complete Estate Plan can help eliminate this problem situation.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal matter, please contact the office at 757-234-4650 to schedule a consultation.