Ex-Wife Rights after Death
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“What about Ex-Wife Rights after Death? If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased spouse, you shouldn’t also have to deal with the complexities of spousal rights following their death. Attorney Real Estate Group lawyers protect and enforce the inheritance rights of surviving spouses well.”

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Ex-Wife Rights after Death

Whenever marital rights are in dispute after a spouse’s death, we are well-equipped to handle the situation. Call Attorney Real Estate Group today for a free consultation about Ex-Wife Rights after Death.


Knowing Your Rights as a Surviving Spouse

  • When the decedent intends to dispose of more than 50% of the community property, what is the best way for the surviving spouse to assert rights to half of that property?
  • Does the surviving spouse have a right to inherit? Before getting married, the deceased didn’t mention them in his will or trust.
  • Suppose that a couple was going through a divorce when one of the spouses passed away. Do the surviving spouses have any right to inherit or claim what remains of the community property?
  • If the beneficiaries challenge the decedent’s marriage to the surviving spouse, can they seek to invalidate it?
  • Does the surviving spouse have access to the decedent’s assets during administration? If the surviving spouse was financially dependent on the deceased.
  • Are surviving spouses entitled to a share of the property acquired by community property funds? The funds may go to improve or pay down the mortgage on the decedent’s separate property.
  • Possibly, the deceased cohabitated with a partner before they died. The decedent and the surviving partner had yet to formalize their agreement with a legally valid document. They never married. However, they verbally agreed to pass along property after the decedent’s death. Does the surviving partner have a legal claim to the property?

Our experienced lawyers can work with Ex-Wife Rights after Death. They help uphold their spousal rights after death. Our attorneys can interpret a deceased person’s will or trust. They can also represent the surviving spouse in court if they need to bring or defend a claim.


In California, What Happens To Community Property After Death?

A surviving spouse must clearly understand the concept of community property and separate property. The will or trust of their deceased spouse will not violate their spousal rights in this way. As a result, they may want to seek legal representation to protect their interests in the property if it appears that they are.

After a spouse passes away, surviving spouses must be proactive if they are to protect their spousal rights. To be proactive, you must first understand the significant differences between community and separate property.

We can help Ex-Wife Rights after Death if the decedent’s will or trust violates their inheritance rights. If necessary, we can assist them in court to claim the inheritance they deserve.


Separate Vs. Community Property

Community property consists of assets acquired by spouses or spouses throughout a marriage. Both spouses may receive separate property at the beginning of a marriage.

This is also known as quasi-community property. It is any property a spouse or both acquired in a state other than California. The property is community property in that state. During a marriage, if a couple accepts community or quasi-community property, each spouse owns 50% of it.

In California, community property after death includes more than the assets. A married couple owned them collectively. It also has their debts.

Separate property comes into existence by gift or inheritance during a marriage. Assets owned before the marriage are also particular property.


Domestic Partnership or Marriage Requirement

To take advantage of California’s community property laws after death, you must have been married to the decedent. You must also have had a domestic partnership with them. Regardless of whether you fall under one of the categories above, you have a right to some of the property.


Surviving Unmarried Cohabitating Couples’ Inheritance Rights

Many states have recently amended inheritance laws. They did this in response to the growing number of couples cohabiting without getting married.

Surviving unmarried partners don’t have the same guaranteed property rights as a surviving spouse. However, they may still benefit from some of the deceased partner’s assets under certain conditions. These conditions relate to their relationship with the deceased partner. For staying available cohabiting partners, the law provides several protections.


Wills And Trusts Omit Spouses’ Inheritance Rights.

The decedent created their will or trust before knowing about their spouse and children. California law protects the Ex-Wife Rights after Death, children, and registered domestic partners who do not receive specific treatment in the will or trust.

It can be unpleasant when surviving spouses learn that they did not participate in a decedent’s will or trust. What is omitted spouses’ inheritance rights compared to those in an estate plan? Below, we discuss the inheritance rights of unintentionally omitted spouses in more detail. Do omitted spouses have any claim to their deceased spouse’s separate property?

In California, a spouse or child is not “omitted” if the following conditions apply:

  • If a decedent intentionally disinherited their spouse and children in their will or trust.
  • Other means, such as life insurance, bank accounts, and gifts, may be enough to provide for the surviving spouse and child.

Surviving spouses who have agreed to postnuptial or prenuptial agreements waive their inheritance rights.

Our lawyers can assist them in determining whether surviving spouses qualify as omitted spouses. In such cases, our lawyers can assist omitted spouses. They help ensure that beneficiaries, heirs, executors, or trustees do not violate their inheritance rights.


Wills and Trusts and Community Property Rights

If married decedents leave more than half of their community property in their will or trust, they were not married at their death. When they try to dispose of more than half of their community property, they are, in essence, displacing their surviving spouse’s property. A surviving spouse can enforce their ownership rights to the deceased’s property to protect their rights.


Wills and Trusts and Community Property Rights


Survivors of a deceased spouse who believe their spouse improperly disposed of their half of the community property should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer will help them figure out how they should proceed.


Contesting A Will Or Trust by a Surviving Spouse

If a person has standing (i.e., a financial stake in a case), they can contest the will or trust. A surviving spouse can challenge the decedent’s will or trust. They can do this even when the decedent’s spouses do not appear in the will or trust.

If they believe that misconduct, such as:

  • undue influence,
  • fraud, duress,
  • Or coercion played a role in the creation or execution of the document.

As a surviving spouse, if you wish to contest a will or trust, a lawyer familiar with wills and trusts can help you decide if it is in your best interest.

The lawyers can file a claim on your behalf if that is the case. They can also help surviving spouses defend a contest against other beneficiaries over wills and trusts.


Unintentionally Omitted Spouses’ Rights to Inheritance

If people had previously executed a will or trust, they would update it upon entering into a marriage in a perfect world. Many people need to remember this crucial task. They think that if they were to die, their marriage would automatically secure an inheritance for their spouse and future children.

Surviving spouses and, at times, surviving children have the right to inheritances. However, they might have to jump through a few hoops to receive all the assets they deserve.

Surviving spouses and, sometimes, surviving children generally have the right to inheritances. However, they might have to jump through some hoops to receive them. Omitted spouses will receive 50% of a decedent’s community and quasi-community properties.

The decedent will likely dispose of their separate property through a will or trust. Those assets will usually pass to the beneficiaries named in the will or trust. A spouse excluded from their deceased spouse’s final wishes can contest the will or trust. Spouses feel that the distribution of assets could be happening better.


Inheritances That Automatically Pass To the Survivor

Certain assets may pass automatically to the surviving spouse. This happens regardless of what the decedent’s will or trust says.


Deeds of Right of Survivorship

The surviving spouse will inherit a community property without the need to go through probate upon the death of their partner if the property title lists it as community property with the right of survivorship.

When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse’s estate will receive the assets owned in joint tenancy, including real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles.


Payable-on-Death and Transfer-on-Death Designations

Some marital assets pass automatically to their surviving spouse. However, some assets must be designated to pass to them. There are two types of designations: payable on death (POD) and transfer on death (TOD).

Upon death, the designated asset beneficiary can claim it without probate. Until then, the asset owner will still have complete control over it.

The following are standard PODs:

  • Accounts at the bank
  • Policies for life insurance

Additionally, a TOD allows the asset owner to keep ownership of the asset until their death. Then, the asset passes to the designated beneficiary without going through probate.

TODs include the following:

  • A retirement account
  • The real estate market
  • The vehicles

It is possible to dispute the beneficiary above designations. For example, if the surviving spouse fails to name the beneficiary of a community property asset. If needed, it is possible to challenge a beneficiary designation. A lawyer can help you determine if it is valid.


Non-ERISA vs. ERISA Retirement Accounts

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act and non-ERISA (nonqualified) retirement plans are offered by employers when providing retirement benefits to employees.

ERISA and non-ERISA retirement plans have a critical difference. ERISA plans are subject to specific federal standards. For example, employees must know about the plan’s features and funding, and contributions must be tax deductible. Non-ERISA plans, on the other hand, are exempt from federal regulations.

ERISA account owners must designate their spouses as beneficiaries. If they choose to represent someone else, the spouse must waive succession rights in writing.


After Divorce, What Happens to Spousal Rights?

Disputes can arise regarding the ex-spouse’s inheritance when a decedent is divorced. Disputes can also occur when a decedent is undergoing a divorce when they die.

If divorce papers are pending but the divorce is not final, can the decedent’s soon-to-be ex-spouse inherit? Did the decedent finalize their divorce but fail to update their estate plan to exclude their ex-spouse?

Most states have safeguards in place to prevent the scenarios above from occurring. The ex-spouse will likely receive an inheritance from the decedent’s estate if the decedent specifically named their ex-spouse in their will or trust. This is true even if the divorce became final.

Divorce proceedings, such as filing divorce papers and finalizing the divorce, determine the inheritance rights of ex-spouses.


Surviving Spouses’ Inheritance Rights in Divorce Proceedings

It is easy for inheritance disputes to arise when a spouse dies without finalizing their divorce or updating their estate plan. If the marriage is about to be dissolved, what rights does the surviving spouse have to the decedent’s separate property? What rights does the surviving spouse have to the community property?

Upon death, the family court will dismiss the divorce proceeding if the decedent was in the process of getting a divorce, but the court has not yet issued the decree of divorce. If the deceased spouse did not have a prenup or post-up, we would consider the surviving spouse a widow. They would be entitled to half of the community property.

The spouse who is left behind has likely the right to receive any gifts made to them by the will or trust of the deceased. The probate court will consider this. Other beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate may contest the will. They may do this if they deny inheritance to a surviving spouse.

If the divorce is final, ex-spouses will not inherit the decedent’s property even if the decedent left them a will or trust. Ex-spouses will only inherit specific property if they expressly state in a written document signed after a divorce decree that they want it to pass to them.


Bottom Line: Ex-Wife Rights after Death

If you’re a surviving spouse of a deceased spouse, we can be a lifeline for you. Attorney Real Estate Group’s lawyers can help you secure the inheritance you’re entitled to during grief. You can navigate the complexities of inheritance laws with help.

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