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Ask An Attorney: Your Estate

My spouse just left me. How do I keep him/her from inheriting my estate?

A common reason people ask for wills is to disinherit their spouses when they separate. It’s a natural reaction, but not as easy as you might think. Separated isn’t Divorced. Even if you write your soon-to-be ex out of your will, he/she can renounce your will and instead elect to take half your estate (or a third if you have kids or grandkids) while married. This does not mean you should not make the will (or change beneficiaries). If you have no will and die before you’re divorced, your spouse could potentially get MUCH more. So you need planning and retitling of assets. If your spouse won’t waive the right of election, it is still preferable to create a will that limits his/her share to the minimum allowed, and hope you can live long enough to be officially single again. One of our Annapolis attorneys can help you through these minefields.