Can a wife without her husbands’s surname have difficulties with a Will?

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Can a wife without her husbands’s surname have difficulties with a Will?

My friend’s were married in China; the husband is American and the wife is Chinese; they live in the U.S. The wife kept her Chinese surname. They have had a Will drawn up and it is notarized. Someone told my friend that there will be a problem with the will because her surname is different than her husband’s surname. However, I have seen the Will which was drawn up in the U.S., the marriage certificate from China and everything is certified, notarized. Why someone would give them advice that I believe is completely wrong? Is there any foreseeable problems because they have different surnames?

Asked on April 18, 2019 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, there is absolutely no legal requirement that a wife have the same surname as her husband for inheritance or probate purposes, and no reason why having a different surname would pose problems with a will. Nowadays, it's hardly uncommon for a wife to not have the same surname as her husband, and many thousands (at least!) of wills are probated each and every year when the surviving spouse has a different surname than the deceased spouse. Indeed, many wills leave assets to non-spouses (friends, unmarried significant others, etc.) where the names will not match. Whomever advised your friend is incorrect--as for why they gave such wrong advice is anyone's guess.


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