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John Edwards not named in wife Elizabeth's will

Friday, January 7, 2011

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. -- The will Elizabeth Edwards signed days before her death last month made no mention of her estranged husband and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards.

The document Elizabeth Edwards signed Dec. 1, six days before her death, also named her eldest child, lawyer Cate Edwards, as the executor of her estate.

In the will, Edwards left personal effects, furniture, automobiles and other property to be divided among her children -- Cate, Emma Claire, 12, and Jack, 10.

Other documents accompanying her will valued Elizabeth Edwards' estate at $496,000 in cash, securities, household furnishings, vehicles and ownership in businesses. She also owned real estate worth an additional $1 million, and she controlled a trust that may hold more assets.

John Edwards could be a beneficiary of that trust, said Andrea Chomakos, an estate planning lawyer not involved with the Edwards family.

Inheritance laws in North Carolina bar a spouse from completely cutting off even an estranged spouse unless specified in a separation or other agreement between them.

A death certificate said Elizabeth Edwards died from the incurable breast cancer that returned in 2007 as John Edwards campaigned for the presidency. The cancer was first diagnosed in 2004, a day after the Democratic ticket that included John Edwards as the vice presidential candidate lost to George W. Bush.

John and Elizabeth Edwards separated early last year after 32 years of marriage. John Edwards admitted he fathered a child during an affair with a former campaign worker.

The Edwardses had several tumultuous years leading up to her death, struggling through his admission of the affair and eventual acknowledgment that he'd fathered a child with his mistress in the middle of his 2008 presidential campaign. Elizabeth Edwards said she worked for two years trying to reinvent her role as a spouse before making the difficult decision to separate from him.

The Edwardses were law school sweethearts who married just days after they took the bar exam together in the summer of 1977. They had four children together, including a son who died at age 16. Although the couple had separated, John Edwards was at her side around the clock as her health deteriorated. He did not speak at her funeral.


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