Troubleshooting Legal Problems

Can you leave your spouse out of your will?

When you are planning your estate and putting together all required documents, including your will, decide who to include in your will.

It does not happen often but sometimes this question comes up—which is why it is so critical to begin the estate planning process early and to have solid estate planning representation from an early stage, so everyone knows what you want, as your life evolves and changes.

One more thing: our place as attorneys is not to judge. This is for informational purposes only. For information regarding your specific circumstances, be sure to call our firm.

Can I disinherit my spouse in Pennsylvania?

First of all, let’s define this term. Disinheriting someone means deciding not to leave them anything in your will. In Pennsylvania, along with a few other states, spouses have rights to their spouse’s inheritance, even if you leave them out of your will.

You can try to leave them out of your will or even specifically say you want nothing to go to them but unless they agree in writing and clearly state that they agree to that, the law protects them and allows them to claim a portion of your estate.

The spouse’s elective share

This portion that spouses get to claim is called an “elective share,” and it is a part of your estate that, by Pennsylvania law, your spouse may claim. Typically, it is about one-third of your estate, which includes property, money and any other assets you leave behind.


As always, there are exceptions. There are a few situations where your spouse may not claim an elective share. For example, if they completely waive their rights to anything you own in a prenuptial agreement or another written contract, they may not be eligible to claim an elective share.

Legal advice matters

Estate planning is not always easy because it often reflects very personal matters in a person’s life. Having an established relationship with an estate planning attorney who can get to know you, your family, the dynamics between all of you and most importantly, your wishes, can make a huge difference in what happens to your hard-earned assets and ultimately, your legacy.

We are here to help you protect it by respecting your choices, offering you solutions that match your wishes and ensuring that the distribution of your assets goes as smoothly as possible.