Spousal Inheritance Rights

In Missouri, as in many other states, you generally cannot completely disinherit your spouse unless they agree to it, usually through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Spouses in Missouri have certain legal rights to a portion of the estate of their deceased spouse, known as the “elective share” or “statutory share.”

Here’s how it typically works:

Elective Share

In Missouri, if a spouse is disinherited, they may choose to take an elective share instead of what was left to them in the will. This elective share is typically one-third of the deceased spouse’s estate if there are also surviving descendants or one-half of the estate if there are no descendants.

Using Trusts

While trusts can be used to manage how your assets are distributed upon your death, setting up a trust specifically to disinherit a spouse can be tricky. Missouri law provides protections for spouses against being completely disinherited, and courts might intervene if it appears that trust was used primarily to circumvent a spouse’s elective share rights.

Legal Agreements

The most straightforward way to disinherit a spouse is through a mutual agreement, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, where the spouse agrees to waive their right to the elective share.

If you’re considering setting up a trust or other estate planning measures to address issues with your spouse, it’s crucial to consult with an estate planning attorney who understands Missouri’s specific laws and can help ensure that your estate plan will hold up under legal scrutiny and align with your intentions.

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