Even if you specifically state in your Will or Trust that your spouse is disinherited, your spouse may claim as much as half of your estate if the two of you were married at least 15 years. The spouse is entitled to lesser percentages if the spouses were married to each other for fewer years.
The percentages are set in Minnesota statutes, and are applied to the so-called “augmented estate”. In simplified terms, the augmented estate is the combined value of all of the assets of the deceased spouse and the surviving spouse (including assets that aren’t impacted by the Will).
On the other hand, your spouse may sign away his or her rights to a spousal share if your spouse signs a consent to a Will that either omits the spouse or provides an amount that falls below the percentage he or she would otherwise be entitled to receive. However, your spouse should seek separate legal counsel before signing such a document.
Pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements — signed before or after marriage respectively — can also contractually limit the inheritance of a surviving spouse. Again, it is important that the spouses each consult separate legal counsel before signing such contracts.
Spouses may also “disclaim” one or more assets that are given to them via a Will. In doing so, the next in line — typically the children — inherit the asset.
Minnesotans desiring to omit a child or spouse from an inheritance are advised to seek counsel from a Minnesota attorney whose primary law practice is estate planning and the related fields of probate and trust administration.
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