Living Will

Inside the Law: Cutting Your Spouse Out Of Your Will

June 26, 2018 - 2:59 pm

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions​

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Not feeling the love during wedding season? How do you cut your spouse out of your will? 

“Flesh and Spirit” is the name of a twelve-foot painting by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat set to go up for auction at Sotheby’s, which is expected to fetch more than $30 million. It’s also the subject of a lawsuit. 

The painting is part of an art collection by a woman whose will was changed shortly before her death to a new will that gave the vast majority of her money to one of three children, leaving a small percent to the other two and disinheriting her husband of 62 years. The husband has sued Sotheby’s to prevent the sale, arguing NOT that he owns the painting but that under the law, you can’t disinherit a spouse in your will. 


Yes, really. In 49 out of 50 states you can’t cut a spouse out of your will. The answer to your next question is: Louisiana. But in all other states, a husband or wife has automatic rights to collect money even if the spouse specifically leaves him out of the will unless the spouses came to a prenuptial agreement or a separation agreement in which they specifically agree to waive their rights to collect from the other’s estate. 

As you can imagine, the fight over the painting will likely cause much harm to the flesh and spirit of the humans involved; the fate of the painting "Flesh and Spirit" remains to be seen.