Can I Disinherit My Spouse?

You have spent the time and money creating an estate plan, but now you are going through a divorce. This is by far one of the most emotionally and legally trying times any person will ever go through. Not only do you have a myriad of legal documents to deal with, and requirements that can be daunting, but you may accidentally forget about updating your estate plan. Neglecting this very important step could mean that your ex-spouse will still inherit all of your property – which may not be what you intended post-divorce.

Most individuals in a divorce situation do not want their ex-spouse inheriting anything from their estate, which is why it is imperative you speak with an estate planning attorney to disinherit your spouse.

Marital Property and Assets

New York law requires equitable distribution of marital assets, which means all marital assets and liabilities are split equally in the eyes of the law – but not necessarily 50/50. Regardless of who paid for it or whose name is on the asset, the asset is still a marital asset if it was received or acquired during the marriage.

During the divorce process, you will split these marital assets. Some of these may have been associated with an estate plan, which means you will need to update your estate plan not only to reflect the spouse you are disinheriting, but the change in assets. If you are not selling and splitting the profits of those assets, then they would remain in your estate plan and your ex would still be able to receive their share of that property – whether you attempted to disinherit them or not.

Revising Your Will Is Key

Revising your estate plan is the only way you can disinherit a spouse. If you have not created a will, then now is the time to sit down with an estate planning attorney and do so. Your will can create specific instructions regarding your intentions to disinherit your ex-spouse. Because state intestate succession laws will take over if you do not have an estate plan or updated plan, this is an imperative step. You must decide who will inherit from you and who will not – and dictate that within your estate plan for the courts.

The most important feature of an estate plan is clarity. Then you will be able to clearly identify who should inherit property and assets after your death. You will also want to revise your life insurance policies, retirement plans and other documents that list your soon-to-be ex as your beneficiary – because even your estate plan cannot protect against those.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island, NY Today

If you are going through a divorce, protect your assets from your ex-spouse by speaking with an estate planning attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with revising or creating a new estate plan that specifies who will inherit your assets. Schedule a consultation at 516-605-0625 or contact us online with your questions.

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