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What does estate law say about a spouse's inheritance rights?

Like most other spouses here in Ohio, you probably expect your spouse to provide for you if you outlive him or her. The question is whether your spouse created an estate plan prior to death or for some reason failed to provide for you in one. If that happens, you may wonder what estate law says about your right to inherit as a surviving spouse.

Unlike community property states that assume both parties to a marriage own all marital assets equally, common law states such as Ohio do not make that same assumption. Instead, some property may be considered separate despite having been purchased during the marriage. This could mean that you may not be entitled to a certain asset as a surviving spouse.

You do have rights, however. Your spouse cannot explicitly and completely disinherit you in an estate plan. State law allows you to claim a certain percentage of your deceased spouse's estate regardless. You may want to know that you must actively pursue this share in court. If you fail to do so, you may not receive it.

If you find yourself in a position where your spouse failed to leave you an inheritance outright, you may benefit from discussing the matter with an estate law attorney. He or she can advise you of your rights under Ohio law and help you pursue the portion of the estate to which you may be entitled. Losing your spouse was more than likely traumatic enough, you should not have to worry about your financial security as well.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance Law and Your Rights", Accessed on Dec. 17, 2017

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