Your spouse passes away, and you discover that they never named you in their will or estate plan. What will happen? How does the court view this omission?
Generally speaking, there are laws in Washington to help ensure that the surviving spouse will be provided for in the estate. After all, if your spouse passed away without a will — known as “dying intestate” — then the law would govern what you should get. These same rules can be used if you were omitted from the will, as it is a fundamentally similar situation.
That said, the big exception to this is if the court thinks that your spouse made the omission intentionally to cut you out of the estate plan. If they clearly intended to leave you less than the intestate laws would allow, or if they intended to leave you nothing, the court can rule that way. They just need to know that it was your spouse’s intent to do so and that they did not omit you accidentally.
You may be wondering how someone would accidentally omit their spouse, but it’s not that uncommon. Maybe your spouse wrote a will while they were still single. Then you got married. They forgot to update the will or put it off until they were older, only to die unexpectedly. In that situation, the court then has to determine if they would have intended to leave you their assets or not.
These situations can get complicated and may lead to a dispute, so make sure you are aware of your legal rights.