The foundation of any relationship is trust. So, what happens if you learn your spouse wrote a Will you didn’t know about? Could your spouse blindside you and leave all of his or her assets to someone else?
The good news is that California law includes provisions designed to protect people from vindictive spouses. In other words, your spouse cannot disinherit you. The law includes “elective share” provisions, so if your spouse tried to treat you unfairly in their last Will and Testament, you could “elect against the Will” and take the share prescribed by state statutes.
In addition, it’s important to understand that California is a Community Property state. So, the law says that even if your spouse doesn’t leave assets to you in their Will, you are legally entitled to a share of your spouse’s separate property, one-half of assets considered community property, and one-half of “quasi” community property assets.
It is comforting to know that you have some protection under the law and could opt for your elective share rights if your spouse were to try to disinherit you. Having said that, there are situations where it may make sense for a spouse to waive their rights to take the elective share. Everyone’s goals and interests are different; the best way to ensure your wishes are documented and your rights protected is by creating and updating your estate plan.
It is important for spouses to be on the same page when it comes to their estate planning. While you and your spouse do not need to use the same attorney to draft your estate planning documents, it often makes the most sense to do so because spousal interests are intertwined. To learn more and to schedule an estate planning consultation, contact The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center today!