Does a spouse inherit everything even if there is a Will in force naming only children as heirs?

My father is 94 years old. After Mom died he had his Will changed and named my brother and I as sole beneficiaries. He has recently begun seeing a woman and was wondering if they married, how does that affect the Will?

Asked on May 6, 2016 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In most states, a surviving spouse cannot be disinherited; they are entitled to something known as an "elective share". Basically this means that they can elect against the Will (or intestate estate if there is no Will) and receive a share of the estate. This is the law so long as the survivng spouse and the deceased spouse were legally married at the time of death. In cases where a deceased spouse left children, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive 1/3 of the deceased spouse’s personal and real property, of which the surviving spouse is entitled to receive the first $25,000 outright and the remaining portion as a life estate or income interest.

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