Am I Required To Leave an Inheritance to My Spouse?

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Estate Lawyer

You may be wondering if you are required to leave your children or spouse property or money upon your death. While consulting an estate planning attorney will help you regarding your specific situation, here are some guidelines regarding your family’s right to inherit from you after your passing.

Are You Required To Leave Anything to Your Spouse?

There are some legal protections for spouses – or registered domestic partners – when it comes to survivorship. States that adopt common law offer protection against being disinherited completely. Additionally, most states enforce the rights of a spouse to receive a sizeable share of the property of a deceased spouse.

In a common-law state, a spouse that has been under-provided for will generally have the option of either taking what is offered by the will or rejecting the gift and taking the minimum share allowed by the state.

In some states, your spouse may have rights to the family home. This can vary from direct ownership to just the right to live there for the rest of his or her life. Additionally, each state will range in the amount of property that is entitled to the surviving spouse depending on their needs and whether there are surviving children.

Are You Required To Leave Anything to Your Children?

Generally speaking, you are not required to leave an inheritance to your children. There are two exceptions to this rule, however. Some laws give certain rights to minor children and laws that protect children who are overlooked in a will by accident.

Depending on the state, a minor may inherit the family home if they are less than 18 years old. Children that have been unintentionally overlooked in a parent’s estate will have different rights according to the state. In general, these laws will apply to offspring that were born after the will was signed and assumes that the parent didn’t intentionally leave the child out. As a result of these protections, the child will be able to claim part of the decedent’s property. If you have a specific idea about what you would like each child to receive, it’s a good idea to name each one of your children in your will to avoid any confusion.

If you have concerns that someone in your family may contest your will, it’s best to get legal advice. Estate planning attorneys, can help secure your future wishes, even if your family has a different idea of what should happen to your property.


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