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What should you know about disinheriting your spouse?

| Jul 9, 2021 | Estate Planning |

When one partner in marriage holds the majority of the assets, it can create fear in the other. They may fear that in the event of their partner’s death, they may end up left with virtually nothing, which can make surviving in the aftermath exceedingly difficult.

But New Jersey law contains a certain guaranty for spouses. They can either take the amount left in the will or take one-third of their deceased spouse’s estate.

What is an elective share?

When considering disinheriting your spouse, you want to be well versed in New Jersey Law. The above guaranty is an “elective share”. It prevents wealthy people from refusing or failing to support and provide for their spouses after their death.

You must give notice of intent to claim the elective share during your spouse’s lifetime. As long as nothing else occurs, this gives you rights to inspect the decedent’s financial records. Then, you can decide if you wish to exercise your right to the elective share.

Can you waive your right?

Note that you can waive your right to an elective share if you choose. If you decide it will not serve your interest, you may opt for this route. You must submit the waiver in writing. It needs signatures from the party writing the waiver, and that party needs fair disclosure from the second party involved. Some waivers concern “all rights”, meaning you give up both your elective share as well as any other right of intestate succession.

Dealing with such matters is often more complex than most people expect. To make sure you do not make a mistake you regret later, consider contacting legal help. They can aid you in your navigation of elective shares and how you may wish to handle them.