Do I have to include my spouse or children in my Will?

By Paige Webbstock, Staff Writer.

Laws for the most part are designed to protect surviving spouses - the rationale is that otherwise many would be left with no inheritance.

In community property states, your spouse will automatically inherit half of your assets you made or acquired during your marriage. The following are community property states:







New Mexico






In the above states, you have the right to leave your half of the community property, and your separate property, to anyone else you decide.


In every other state in America, the surviving spouse has a a legal right to claim a portion of your estate, regardless of what is included in your will. But these provisions only take place if your spouse makes a court claim for their share. 

Should you decide that you do not want your spouse to inherit at least half of your property, then you should speak to a lawyer. However, should your spouse agree to this in writing, a lawyer may not be necessary.  

In strictly legal terms, you are permitted to disinherit a child. However, the law can be murky in this area. For example, a child may claim that you disinherited them without knowing it. Example cases would be children who were born after their parent made the will. 


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