This three-part blog series discusses the legacy of Elizabeth Edwards and her final days, including her revised will just days before her death. Elizabeth Edwards was smart, beautiful and most of all, very human, as seen during her final years battling cancer and dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s affair. What we may not know is that Elizabeth Edwards changed her will only days before she died, and in her new will, she disinherited her husband.
To understand the importance and unfortunate timing of her newly drafted will, we need to look closer into her personal life. Because Elizabeth Edwards did not legally divorce her husband, John Edwards, her decision to disinherit him may have no legal validity. According to the North Carolina elective share laws, because the two were never divorced, he may be able to receive at least a portion of her estate. The North Carolina Probate Code gives John Edwards the legal right to receive up to one-third of her estate, which is valued at over $1 million. Following her death in 2010, many legal scholars began wondering if her attorneys should have done more to protect her estate and help her write him out of her will sooner. However, since Elizabeth decided against divorcing her husband, her attorneys would have had to convince her otherwise or develop a more rock solid estate plan to disinherit him.