If you have a Will and your spouse dies, do you get the items left?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If you have a Will and your spouse dies, do you get the items left?

The Will states that some things go to other people but that is if they both die.

Asked on November 7, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You follow the terms of the will, assuming it was properly signed and witnessed. If the will does NOT apply to the current situation (e.g. it only, as you write, applies if both spouses pass away), then to the extent the will does not control, you would look to your state's laws on "intestate succession"--the rules for who gets what when there is no will. In your state (WA), that means that if there are no children of the deceased, the spouse gets everything (or everything not disposed of by the will); if there children, the spouse gets all the "community property" (to oversimplify: everything acquired during marriage, other than an inheritance or gift to only one spouse) and 1/2 the deceased spouse's "separate property" (what he/she had pre-marriage, and anything gifted to or inherited by only him/her during marriage); the children get the other 1/2 of separate property.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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