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What to do if your spouse leaves you out of the will

It can be a shock to learn that your spouse did not include in his or her will. Finding out that you have been left nothing can be quite devastating, especially if your spouse was the main wage earner. If you find yourself in this situation in Minnesota, is there anything you can do?

There might be. Your first step should be learning what the law has to say. Then, you can begin to formulate a plan and see if there is a chance to contest the will and get some money from the estate.

The law and your rights

According to the Official Website of the Minnesota Attorney General, a person can leave his or her spouse out of a will. However, it requires very specific language. This leaves room for contesting the will if you find yourself in this situation. The will must have language that excludes you in a clear and deliberate manner. Simply not adding your name to the will, though, does not exclude you because you do have general rights to an inheritance because you were married. 

You have the right to a share of your spouse's augmented estate, according to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. How much you have a claim to depends on how long you were married. This applies, too, even if you were left the house or other property but no money. You would receive whatever property you were left in addition to the share of the augmented estate you are entitled to.

The amount you can get is up to 50 percent. The less time you were married, the lower the percentage of the estate you can get. For example, if you were married two years, you can only claim six percent, but if you were married for eight years, you get 24 percent. It caps out at 15 years at 50 percent. If you were married longer than that, you still can only get the maximum of 50 percent.

Finding out your spouse did not include you in his or her will can be a shock. However, it may have been an oversight or perhaps he or she did not update the will after your marriage. In any case, there is a chance you can recoup at least part of the estate even if it is not specifically stated in the will.

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