• Tom c/o Wealth Counsel

Surprise! You Cannot Easily Disinherit Your Spouse in the U.S.

Believe it or not, in the U.S. it isn’t easy to disinherit your spouse. But the same is not true for other family members – generally, you can use your estate plan to disinherit your brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, or even your very own children and grandchildren.

However, in the majority of states and the District of Columbia, you can’t intentionally disinherit your spouse unless your spouse actually agrees to receive nothing from your estate in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement.


Beware: Spousal Disinheritance Laws Vary Widely From State to State

Unfortunately there isn’t one set of rules that govern what a surviving spouse is entitled to inherit. Instead, the laws governing spousal inheritance rights, referred to as “elective share laws” or “community property laws” depending on the state where you live or own property. These laws vary widely. Defined by each state’s laws, the surviving spouse’s right to inherit may based on one or more of the following factors:

  • how long the couple was married;

  • whether or not children were born of the marriage;

  • the value of assets included in the deceased spouse’s probate estate; or

  • the combined value of an “augmented estate,” which includes the deceased spouse’s probate estate and non-probate assets.

For example, in Florida a surviving spouse has the option to receive a portion of their deceased spouse's estate called the "elective share." This share is equal to 30% of the deceased spouse's "elective estate," which includes the value of the deceased spouse's probate estate and certain non-probate assets such as payable on death and transfer on death accounts, joint accounts, the net cash surrender value of life insurance, property held in a revocable living trust, and annuities and other types of retirement accounts, reduced by the deceased spouse's debts (this is an example of the last category described above).

Aside from this, state laws also vary widely regarding the time limit a surviving spouse has to seek their inheritance rights, which can range anywhere from a few months to a few years.


Disinherited Spouses Need to Act Quickly!

If your deceased spouse has attempted to disinherit you, you must seek legal advice as soon as possible before state law bars you from enforcing your rights. Only an experienced estate planning attorney can help you weigh all of your options and protect your interests as a surviving spouse. In Dayton, Ohio call Culpepper Law, LLC at 937-589-4144 to schedule a review of your estate plan options.

41 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Do I Have to Leave Anything to my Children?

One common storyline in Hollywood movies is the rich father disinheriting the family outcast. The story usually traces the child’s attempts to win the father over and be considered a part of the famil

Five Reasons to Protect Your Retirement Accounts Now

Your retirement account provides asset protection during your lifetime, but as soon as you pass that account to a loved one, that protection evaporates. When your spouse, child, or other loved one inh

How to Talk to Mom and Dad about Creating an Estate Plan

Conversations about death and dying are rarely fun. Most people avoid them because they invoke feelings about our inevitable demise. Broaching this subject can be particularly difficult for parents an

Culpepper Law Logo
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Google Places - White Circle
  • RSS - White Circle
bbb-logo.png

Copyright © 2021 Culpepper Law, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Website by Makeshark.

The laws governing legal advertising in the State of Ohio require the following statement in any publication of this kind: THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.