A Secret Disinheritance

Did you know that you can’t disinherit your spouse without them knowing? There are rules out there saying that your spouse gets a guaranteed chunk of the estate. However, it also depends on whether you have children together, whether you bring children from a previous relationship or a previous marriage into your marriage. It also depends on how long you guys have been together. But there’s an equation out there that says how much they get and when they get it.

An Example

An example is, your spouse can live in your shared house for their life. It’s called a life estate. That happens, no matter what.  You can say that the kids get the house or you’ve had this house since you were twenty years old. Maybe this is your second marriage, and the kids get the house. But they get it subject to your spouse’s ability to live there. So, you can get most of your estate away from your spouse if you wanted to. Another example is a second marriage where you brought children from a previous relationship and want my money to go to your kids; that’s not unusual. But to do that, your spouse has to be on board, at least on some level.

Why Does This Happen

Your spouse has rights, and that’s part of what commit to when you get married. You marry into this legal agreement governed by laws, at least in part. If your spouse is going to be disinherited entirely, they need to consent to it. And they need something in writing. This could be via a prenuptial agreement, but it could just as well be part of the estate plan. Your attorney would create something called “a consent and waiver of will,” which is where your spouse will sign off and say, “Yes, I understand that all the money’s going to his or her kids and not to me. I’m okay with that.” As long as you do that, you’re in good shape. But believe it or not, you can’t just do it. You do have to follow some rules.