Because most states’ probate laws prohibit spouses from disinheriting one another, how are famous celebrities able to do just that? Generally, they have a team of estate planning and domestic relations attorneys helping them protect their assets by using contracts entered into before marriage. These nuptial agreements are known as premarital or prenuptial agreements, and they may allow you to protect your property in case of divorce. However, state laws differ as to their validity.
Typically, absent a nuptial agreement, you cannot completely disinherit your spouse. However, you can leave your spouse a minimum share of your estate, and as long as you don’t completely disinherit him or her, you may be able to get around your state’s elective or forced share statute.
In most states, spouses have legal rights to receive at least a minimum share of their deceased spouse’s property. Known as an “elective share” or “forced share,” most states allow a spouse to waive his or her spousal inheritance in favor of the elective or forced share according to statute. For example, a wife who receives less than a third of her husband’s estate in a state with a one-third spousal elective share law can disclaim her inheritance in favor of at least one-third of her husband’s estate. However, why would you want to disinherit your loving spouse to begin with?