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Can your spouse disinherit you and leave you with nothing?

| Feb 17, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Marriage has its ups and downs as well as a lot of boring times in the middle. The longer you stay with your spouse, the more likely it is that the two of you may have some unresolved conflicts that you have just had to let go over the years. Even if you haven’t fought, simmering resentment over small issues can build over the decades.

Keeping the peace in a long-term marriage often requires compromise or forgiveness. Unfortunately, some people hold a grudge, possibly for the rest of their lives. With the recent news story about Larry King having written his spouse out of his will, people might feel inspired to try something similar themselves. Can your spouse change their estate plan without telling you and leave you with nothing?

Spouses in Maryland have rights regardless of the will

Your spouse could try to change their estate plan to leave you out of it, but you could probably challenge that move in court. Maryland spouses have statutory rights to inheritance when they become widow(er)s. The exact rights depend on family circumstances and whether their spouse had a will.

If your spouse dies without a will, you receive either the full estate or, if your deceased spouse had children, a share of it. If your spouse’s will explicitly excludes you, you might need to challenge it in probate court and ask for your statutory inheritance. While that could diminish what others receive, you likely need a portion of the estate to support yourself after suffering such a tragic loss.

Instead of asking for kindness from those who did inherit part of your spouse’s estate, you can push back against an estate plan that tries to leave you out in the cold. An experienced attorney can help.