Can you disinherit your spouse?

Let’s say an individual prepares a will that leaves nothing to their spouse and then dies.  While divorce is more common and accessible now than it was one or two generations ago, there are still reasons, planned and unplanned, that separated spouses die while still married.  Or this may even occur when a couple is happily married but are trying to accomplish some other goal with their estate. 

Will the court allow a spouse to be disinherited?

Most states have laws that allow the surviving spouse to take a certain percentage of the estate as determined by that state’s law instead of having to adhere to the will’s bequest (or lack thereof). This is called a spouse’s elective share.  

An elective share essentially overrides the will so that the surviving spouse can inherit at least a portion of the deceased spouse’s assets.  This protects the surviving spouse and their interests.  

There are ways outside of the use of a will to accomplish some estate-planning goals related to assets and individuals who can benefit from them, but these are more complicated means to give money and property.  At the most basic level, state laws generally protect spouses from disinheritance.

Regardless of your marital situation, can guide you through the complex process of settling an estate. If you just want to understand your most important duties, or what expenses might be reimbursable, we can help. We will also create for you a step-by-step plan to help you navigate your responsibilities as executor. Our goal is to help you make this complex stressful process as manageable as possible.