Can my husband leave his house and life insurance to someone other then me?

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Can my husband leave his house and life insurance to someone other then me?

In Virginia, can my husband leave
his house and life insurance to
someone other then me? He bought
the house during our marriage and
we have lived in it together with
our children for 12 years. But he
will not put my name on the deed.
I heard from a friend that he
wants a girl he had an affair with
to inherit everything if he dies.
Can he do this? Legally do I have
any ground to stand on? I am still
married to him, living with him
and have no plans to divorce.

Asked on February 3, 2017 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In your state, there is protection for spouses from being fully disinherited, unless the disinheriting occured in a written marital agreement (like a pre-nup). A spouse has the right to take an "elective share" of (depending on whether there are children and some other facts) between 1/3 and 1/2 of the "estate" (property and assets) of the spouse who passed away. (If left more than that, either by a will or under the rules of intestate succession [rules who gets what when there is not will], the spouse would simply take that amount, rather than taking the lesser elective share). 
That applies to your husband's property; but it does not apply to life insurance, however. The person purchasing insurance can name *anyone* as beneficiary, and the insurer will pay the proceeds to that person or persons. The insurance proceeds go directly to that person and do not pass through or become part of the estate, and so are not subject to the elective share.
The rules about the spouse's elective share can be complex, and you need to make sure you request it in the right way, shortly after your spouse passes away. It would be a very idea to consult with a probate attorney in your area to fully understand the share and how to get to.


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