Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Maryland

If a young man has a will leaving everything to a friend and then marries, does the wife become the beneficiary

Asked on 2/17/11, 8:10 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Thomas Brown Law Office of Thomas K. Brown, LLC

Regardless of what the will says, the wife can choose to "elect against the will", giving her a share of the husband's estate known as the "statutory share". The surviving spouse can take up to $5,000 (the "family allowance") plus 50% of the remaining estate.

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Answered on 2/17/11, 8:20 am
Richard Abraham Abraham & Bauer, LLC

You are confusing two (2) different concepts. Beneficiary designations are controlled via a contract. They can be changed. An example is that you purchase insurance and designate a beneficiary.

A last will & testament controls assets titled only in the decedent's name (no co-owners), which also have no beneficiary designations.

A spouse can elect against an estate and/or litigate to have property that is co-owned and/or that names someone other than the spouse as a beneficiary brought back into the estate allowing the elective share to be taken.

In short unless the surviving spouse decides not to take an elective share, in Maryland one spouse cannot disinherit the other spouse.

The above answer is provided solely for informational purposes and does not create an implied or expressed attorney-client relationship.

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Answered on 2/17/11, 9:02 am
Cedulie Laumann Arden Law Firm, LLC

One other point not mentioned above - in Maryland if someone marries AND has a child, a prior will made before these two events is presumptively invalid.

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Answered on 2/17/11, 10:01 am

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