In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson, Illinois and Missouri Elder Law attorney, discusses why someone may want to disinherit their spouse from their will and offers advice on how to still provide for a spouse in a nursing home without causing them to lose Medicaid eligibility or the money they may have inherited.
Can I Disinherit My Spouse in My Will?
Hi, I’m Wes Coulson from Coulson Elder Law in St. Louis, Missouri and O’Fallon, Illinois and this is your Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. Today I want to talk about sort of unpleasant subject and that is the question of, “Can I disinherit my spouse in my Will?”
A quick answer to that question is no, because as long as you are married at the time of your death, if you don’t leave anything to your spouse, there is a state law, I know it’s in effect in Illinois and Missouri, I think it’s in effect pretty much everywhere, that gives that surviving spouse the right to what’s called take against the will to get, if there are children a third, if there aren’t children half, of the estate regardless of what the will says.
So, I guess that sort of raises a question, “Well, why would somebody want to disinherit the spouse, if they don’t love them anymore why don’t they just go ahead and get a divorce?” Well, in some cases for religious reasons they don’t want to consider that an option. In some situations they’ve grown apart and live apart but just have still stayed married.
But, by far the most common situation is the one in which the spouse who would be disinherited is in a nursing home and on or going to apply for Medicaid and if they receive an inheritance, you might as well say you’re giving the money to the state because that’s where it would wind up going and not to them. You still can do it, but in that instance, and this is another topic, there’s a special type planning that we can do to provide for that spouse in the nursing home without causing them to lose eligibility for Medicaid.
So, the good news there is that you don’t have to do something that you really wouldn’t want to do, but thought you might need to do, but it wouldn’t work if you did it. I hope that clears things up. Thanks.
For more information about Asset Preservation Planning and Wills, visit these articles:
- If You’re Married and Over 65, Your Wills are Probably Wrong
- Living Trusts vs. Wills: Being Able to Give Informal Direction to Trustees
- Married Couples and Medicaid: Is Getting a Divorce a Good Idea?
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Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 or (314) 567-9292, or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.