Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian are so often in the public eye that their tribulations can be easy to discount as products of the celebrity lifestyle and unrelated to our experience. Ironically, the current fascination with reality television shows and celebrity lives can desensitize us to our own possible reality. But these public figures are real people with real families in real situations. Although the latest news is that Lamar and Khloe have called off their divorce, their past struggles can provide cautionary tales for all of us. The latest item has revolved around Lamar’s tragic brush with death and the subsequent discussion over whether he and Khloe were, in fact, still married. The answer became critical because life and death medical decisions were required when Lamar’s impaired condition rendered him unable to make them for himself.
Ultimately, because Arizona law requires final actions by the court, although Lamar and Khloe had signed and filed divorce papers, their divorce was not final. Khloe, still his wife, was able to make those critical decisions. But what if the outcome were not in Lamar’s best interests or what he would have wished? Complications and ill will can be common during divorce proceedings. This outcome, while fortuitous, could have been undesirable and possibly destructive.
In Connecticut, spouses often enter into a dissolution agreement prior to their final hearing. That agreement forms a binding contract, but the couple isn’t divorced until the time of the dissolution hearing after the judge rules to incorporate their agreement into the court’s order. To prevent a situation similar to Odom and Kardashian’s, individuals going through a divorce in Connecticut can nominate a health care representative to make medical decisions on their behalf — including life and death decisions — in the event that they are unable to make them on their own. This is often done in a document that is known as an advanced healthcare directive, living will, or medical power of attorney.
On a related topic, certain beneficiary designations cannot be changed until the divorce is finalized. The dissolution of marriage process beneficiary designations cannot be changed is complex and multi-faceted. Because Freed Marcroft is a family law firm with an estate planning practice, we are in a unique position to understand situations where the two intersect. Lamar and Khloe’s most recent ordeal is not unique to the celebrities of popular culture, and it is instructive for all of us. Fortunately, the background of Freed Marcroft’s attorneys enable us to assist you when the reality show is playing out with you as a character in real time.