Relationships between spouses in Colorado can be interesting, to say the least. Some are very traditional, while others could be described as unconventional. The same can be said when it comes to estate planning and your spouse. Many people want to include provisions in their wills that leave, at least a portion of their estate, to their surviving spouse. However, for a variety of personal reasons, a spouse may try to leave their partner nothing should they pass on before their partner does.

However, surviving spouses generally cannot be disinherited entirely, even if that is what their partner’s will purports to do. While state law varies on this subject, in most common law states, a surviving spouse is legally entitled to a certain percentage of the deceased spouse’s estate. If the deceased spouse leaves their partner less than the state-mandated amount, the surviving spouse can choose to either accept the terms of their deceased partner’s will or move the court to inherit the statutory amount set by the state.

Like many things in life, however, there is an exception. If the surviving spouse entered into a written agreement saying that they will accept an inheritance from their partner less than the statutory amount, this agreement will be honored, and the deceased spouse’s will will be honored, even if it disinherits the surviving spouse.

Of course, this post does not contain legal advice on the topic of disinheritance. Coloradans who want to know how this subject is addressed under state law will want to consult with a legal professional to better understand what their rights and options are.