Estate planning is an important part of protecting the ones you love and preparing for the future. However, estate planning can grow very complicated when a couple divorces and when one of the spouses remarries, especially if the new spouse has children. Depending on the nature of your relationship with a potential heir, there is a chance that your wishes may face a challenge after you pass away.
Knowing who has a legal right to inheritance is important. In California, for instance, a spouse enjoys protection against disinheritance. This means that if a person creates an estate plan including a will that excludes his or her spouse from inheritance, the spouse may object and possibly collect some portion of the estate.
This sort of restriction does have its limits. For instance, a child generally does not have a right to a parent's estate, but does enjoy protection against accidental omissions from a will. Similarly, once a couple finalizes a divorce, the former spouses do not have a claim on each other's property.
If you have any concerns about the validity of your estate planning documents or if you believe you were unfairly denied some portion of inheritance, be sure to speak with an experienced family law attorney.
Professional legal guidance is crucial when it comes to estate planning. The laws that govern these matters are very complex, and interpreting them poorly or not knowing about applicable laws at all may cost you dearly. Be sure that you seek out all the professional help you need to keep your rights protected.
Source: Findlaw, "Inheritance Law and Your Rights," accessed Nov. 24, 2017