Due to the responsibility of administering an estate, personal representatives may find themselves having to deal with many unexpected tasks. One unexpected task may be to defend the estate against a legal action brought by a surviving spouse who was omitted from the decedent’s estate plan. This is because California law provides for omitted spouses to receive a specific share of a spouse’s estate. However, this right can be overcome if the estate can show specific evidence that the omission was intentional.
Documents That Show Intent to Omit the Spouse From a Will
To support that the decedent’s will shows intent to omit the spouse, it’s important to have written documentation. Hence, some examples of this written evidence include:
- A specific clause stating the surviving spouse was intentionally omitted from the decedent’s estate plan.
- A codicil to the will, if the marriage occurred after the deceased spouse had already executed their estate plan. In this codicil, a specific provision must state it was the deceased spouse’s intent to omit the surviving spouse.
- A specific statement contained in the will stating the surviving spouse is being omitted from the will because other transfers were made in lieu of leaving the surviving spouse assets under the terms of the will. Examples would include:
- Naming the surviving spouse as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
- titling assets as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.
- Naming the surviving spouse as the beneficiary of retirement plans.
- A validly-executed prenuptial agreement that clearly states the deceased spouse’s intent to omit the surviving spouse.
- A validly-executed marital agreement that clearly states the deceased spouse’s intent to omit the surviving spouse.
In conclusion, if you are involved in a trust or estate dispute, we can help. We encourage you to review some of our previous case results to learn more.
- Spouses Left Out of Trusts
- What to Consider Before Suing a Trustee
- Responding to a Will Contest By an Omitted Spouse
AttorneyThe Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307