Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Taylor Armstrong, was found dead at the age of 47 in a friend's home where he had been residing on Mulholland Drive.

Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Taylor Armstrong, was found dead at the age of 47 in a friend’s home where he had been residing on Mulholland Drive. The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office has ruled Armstrong’s death a suicide. Taylor filed for divorce this past July, alleging that Russell physically abused her. A divorce has not been issued for the couple. http://www.tmz.com/2011/08/16/real-housewives-russell-armstrong-dead-dies-suicide-dies-hang-taylor-armstrong/

Under New York law, even though a couple is legally separated, a spouse may claim up to 1/3 of deceased spouse’s estate, even if provisions in a Last Will and Testament provide otherwise. Under New York law, a spouse may not effectively disinherit a spouse. Despite the length of separation, a marriage is legally intact. Upon divorce, a spouse may choose to exercise a statutory “right of election.” This will be 1/3 of the entire estate. Upon you death, your spouse may choose to exercise his statutory “right of election,” including the value of bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate, death benefits, interests in property owned jointly with others, pensions, assets held in trust and tangible personal property. Short of obtaining a divorce, the only way to be sure that a spouse cannot exercise a right of election is to have a spouse sign an agreement in which he or she waives all rights to a spouse’s property and all rights in your estate.

The attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C. have worked with a variety of families in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island. For questions regarding estate planning, please contact an attorney at the Leeds Brown Law, P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-888-556-2529 or visit the firm’s website at www.lbestatelaw.com.