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Are you allowed to disinherit your spouse?

You know that you’re not legally obligated to leave your possessions to your heirs, and you can disinherit people who expect to get money or other assets from you in your estate plan. But does that right extend to your spouse? Can you cut your husband or your wife out of the estate plan?

In California, you have to abide by community property laws. This means that you own half of your property and your spouse owns the other half. Everything is shared equally, in that sense.

When you pass away, you have no say over your spouse’s half of the assets. They get them regardless of what you write in your will. You can stipulate that none of your money goes to your spouse, but they still keep 50%, on the grounds that it’s not really “your” money at all. It belongs to them.

However, you can do anything you want with your half of the assets. You can give them to charity, distribute them to other heirs, specifically state that your spouse gets nothing or do anything else you wish. With this line of thinking, you can disinherit them, but don’t think that means you will leave them with nothing. Just as in a divorce, they still have a fundamental right to keep what is theirs by law, and you cannot circumvent that right simply by making an estate plan that passes their property to someone else.

You have a lot of options with estate planning, so it’s wise to take the time to look into exactly what they are and what the law permits.

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