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Does someone have rights when left out of their spouse’s will?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2023 | Probate |

When a married individual dies, their spouse becomes a widow or widower. They may have numerous social and legal challenges ahead after the death of their spouse. On the practical side of things, removing someone from mortgages and utility accounts, reworking the budget to adjust for lost income and absorbing someone’s household contributions will all be challenges for those who lose their spouse unexpectedly.

Some people who are grieving the loss of their closest relationship will also have to grapple with an unexpectedly negative estate plan or will. Their spouse may have failed to mention them or may have left them unusual or valueless property, making them worry about their financial stability moving forward. Thankfully, someone who has been effectively disinherited by their spouse’s estate plan does have options in Minnesota.

Spouses have certain rights under state law

Every marriage is unique, but most people share an interest in both the property that their spouse acquires and the income that their spouse earns during their marriage. Some property may already belong jointly to the spouses, such as the marital home. Other assets that belong to the deceased spouse solely will become their estate.

Typically, the surviving spouse does have a right to a certain interest in that estate. Often, if their inheritance as outlined in estate planning documents is very small, they can potentially elect to receive the first $50,000 of value from the estate. Other factors, like whether there are children who will inherit from the estate and whether the surviving spouse is their parent or stepparent, can also influence what someone will inherit from their spouse’s estate.

There may be other protections for the surviving spouse as well depending on the financial history of the marriage and any relevant marital agreements between the spouses.

Contesting a will can protect those most vulnerable

Someone who has lost a spouse shouldn’t also have to worry about financial hardship due to mistakes or oversight during the estate planning process. If they don’t have proper protection in the existing paperwork, then they may need to consider contesting the will to assert their rights as a surviving spouse.

Learning more about the rules that apply to Minnesota probate proceedings can help people understand what to expect and make use of their rights with the assistance of a legal professional after the death of a loved one.