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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Can Your Children’s Spouses Inherit from You? | Sacramento Will and Trust Lawyer

June 23, 2014

Will and trust lawyers in Sacramento see plenty of situations where parents who love their children are not entirely in love with their children’s spouses. This can make the estate planning process a little tricky, because the spouse can add tension and stir up drama that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. While some people include their sons-and-daughters-in-law in the planning process, it’s not all that unusual to leave them out.

For the most part, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law isn’t even mentioned in the will.  They don’t have any legal standing to inherit from the parent-in-law unless they are specifically named. So, the parent would name his or her own child, but not the child’s spouse. If the adult child was no longer living when their parent died, the property would likely end up being inherited by the grandchildren, rather than the spouse.

That’s not to say that a child’s spouse couldn’t end up with an inheritance. If the parents were to leave assets to the adult child and then the adult child passed away, his or her property would likely go to the spouse, and that includes what was inherited from the parents. One would hope that this property would eventually be passed on to the grandchildren (assuming there are grandchildren), but this is not a given, as the spouse would have the legal right to do whatever he or she wanted with it. In fact, if the spouse remarried, his or her new spouse would be the legal choice to inherit any property that was left behind, including that which was inherited this way.

So, can a Sacramento will and trust lawyer keep your child’s spouse out of your plan entirely? Yes! You can work with your attorney to develop an irrevocable trust. A trustee would be named who would make sure that your child received financial support, while protecting your inheritance from an undesirable spouse.

Creating an estate plan can be emotional and having the additional drama of a difficult personality certainly won’t help matters any. On the other hand, you may absolutely adore your son-or-daughter-in-law and want to make sure that they are taken care of by your estate. In those cases, you will want to make sure that your estate planning lawyer specifically mentions them and what they are inheriting for your own peace of mind.

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