Can you Disinherit your Spouse?

You’ve written a will and not included your spouse in the will. You may think you have excluded your spouse but you probably haven’t. It isn’t that easy to disinherit your wife or husband. This issue largely comes up with blended families.


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In Massachusetts, a spouse is entitled to receive $25,000 outright from their spouse’s estate and one third of the income of their spouse’s personal and real property during the lifetime of the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse is entitled to his or her elective share even though only the decedent’s children may be named in the estate plan.

A prenuptial or postnuptial must be written and signed by both spouses to disinherit a spouse. It is only then that a spouse may not be able to opt for his or her elective share.

Opting for an elective share primarily comes into play with blended families. A spouse’s children from a previous marriage may encourage their parent to seek money by opting for their elective share even though the deceased spouse wished otherwise.

The Massachusetts Elective Share Law is another reminder of the importance of a carefully crafted estate plan. Make sure your assets are distributed as you want upon your death. This requires detailed discussion and planning with your estate planning attorney. Part of this planning may include a prenuptial agreement. If your marital status changes, make sure your estate plan is rewritten or updated to reflect these changes.