If my dad died and he was divorced from stepmother, if she was still listed as his beneficiary will I receive anything?

Asked on October 25, 2011 under Estate Planning, Maryland


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In years past, in a situation such as this, an ex-spouse would inherit if they were still listed in their former spouse's Will. However, failure of a spouse to remove their ex-spouse resulted in many estates not be distributed as the deceased spouse would have wanted. In order to prevent this, the majority (if not all) of the states have enacted statutes to remedy such an inequitable situation. Typically these laws provide that all provisions in a Will in favor of a former spouse “must be read as if the former spouse failed to survive the testator” and are null and void. The gift then passes through the residuary clause (i.e. "all the rest residue, and remainder of my estate..."). So depending on just how that clause is worded, you may or may not have rights to a portion of your father's estate.

At this point you may want to consult directly with a probate attorney.

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