The inheritance rights of a surviving spouse

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2020 | Heirs & Beneficiaries |

As a general rule, you are free to disinherit your spouse for almost any reason that you could imagine. However, under Minnesota law, that person may still have a claim to a portion of your assets after your passing. This may be true whether those assets were listed in a will or placed into a revocable trust.

An overview of the augmented estate

The Uniform Probate Code (UPC) allows for the creation of something called an augmented estate. When you die, your spouse can inherit a portion of any assets that are held in your estate. These are the assets that would be distributed per the terms of your will or state intestacy law if your will was found to be invalid. Your spouse could also choose to accept a portion of assets that are not included in a probate proceeding.

Disinherit a spouse by putting assets in a trust

State law allows a surviving spouse to claim any assets that are titled in your name when you pass. However, assets that are placed in a trust are titled in the trust’s name. Therefore, your husband or wife won’t have a claim to them. Ultimately, you could include a spouse in a will without having to actually transfer any property to that individual.

Your spouse could agree to be disinherited

It is possible to legally disinherit a spouse by obtaining his or her written consent to do so. In such a scenario, you would be under no obligation to include that person in a will. Even if a surviving wife or husband chose to challenge the terms of your will, there is no guarantee that such an effort would be taken seriously.

Ordinarily, your spouse must be included among your heirs and beneficiaries. However, in most cases, this person is only guaranteed a portion of joint assets retained in an estate. An attorney may be able to help you develop an estate plan that meets your needs and conforms to state regulations.