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Can a Spouse be Cut Out of a Will?

There are many different areas of law practice. Some lawyers dabble in lots of areas. I did it for years until I realized the importance of focusing on only a few areas. However, the dabbling I did gave me the chance to learn about the different facets of law and determine what I enjoy doing. This experience in a wide variety of legal areas helps me better advise my Wills and Estates and Workers’ Comp clients I focus on now. Decisions made in one area of the law can impact you in other areas of your life and the law.

What if a husband and a wife are having marital issues and one spouse decides to secretly cut the other out of his/her Will. Can it stand up in court? There are always facts and issues that can change outcomes in our very “gray” law, but the basic answer to this question is no. If one spouse tries to cut the other out of his/her Will, the other is entitled to the same portion of the deceased’s Estate as if there were no Will. In Mississippi, an estate where there is no Will is divided equally among the surviving spouse and surviving children. So if there were two surviving children, the surviving spouse would be entitled to 1/3 of the Estate. If the surviving spouse were completely cut out of the Will, or left less than 1/3, the surviving spouse would be eligible to receive the 1/3 they were legally entitled to receive if there were no Will.

There is a caveat here. If the surviving spouse was left anything in the Will, but less than the entitled share, he/she must file a request to renunciate with the Court within 90 days of the probate of the estate. If the surviving spouse was left nothing in the Will, he/she doesn’t have to file anything. The Will as applied to the survivor would be renounced as a matter of law.

I hope you all are doing well in this crazy time. Try not to let things get you down. Brighter days are on the horizon. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.

Stay safe everyone!

Kevin

“Failure is not fatal, success is not final; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

- Winston Churchill

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