If you make no provisions in your estate plan for your spouse, your spouse may elect to take his or her share and the court could alter your plans.
There are several different ways to leave an inheritance to your spouse, according to The Times Herald in “Options for leaving an inheritance to a spouse.”
The biggest decision is whether to use a will or a trust.
It is unlikely that you can disinherit your spouse, unless you have a valid legal agreement otherwise. In every state, a spouse is entitled to a spousal elective share of a deceased partner’s estate, although the exact amount of the share varies between states.
Therefore, when you are creating your estate plan, you need to consider how to leave an inheritance for your spouse, even if you would rather not.
With a will, you can leave assets for your spouse to receive outright, free of any restrictions or control. However, there are disadvantages to this option, especially if you want to avoid probate and ensure that the spouse will leave any remaining assets to heirs of your choice when the spouse passes away.
With a funded living trust, probate may not be required. There are also ways to make sure that any remaining assets are given to people of your choosing. There are several different types of trusts that can be used to include testamentary trusts under a will, once the estate clears probate.
An estate planning attorney can work with you to create a plan that meets your needs.
Reference: The Times Herald (Feb. 20, 2017) “Options for leaving an inheritance to a spouse.”