Can a husband legally make a will without the wife knowing?

Asked about 4 years ago - Lancaster, PA

I recently found a will my husband had drawn up in January, 2010, that I knew nothing about. We had been talking about going to a financial planner to go over all these things, and then have a will drawn up. When I asked him when we were going to make the appointment, he said that it takes a lot of time to complete. This is a second marriage for both of us. We have been married for 16 years.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Steven J. Fromm

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You have a far greater problem than getting wills and an estate plan done. As the prior attorney mentioned, this dishonesty is a real problem.
    In any event, he can draft a will without you. However, even if he excludes you from taking under the will, you have a statutory right under PA law to take a share of his estate in that case.
    This is a wake up call to you. You need to have your own will, trust (?), living will, durable power of attorney drafted. You need to retain your own estate planning attorney to protect your interests.
    In addition, the following questions come to mind:
    1. Did you enter into a prenuptial agreement with him?
    2. Do you have any signficant wealth on your own or does he have all of the wealth?
    3. Do you have family members to protect and provide for?
    4. Others should be developed by your estate planner.
    This is a very serious problem and you need an attorney working for you not him.

    Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below. Thanks.
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER
    Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties and services clients in all parts of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at 215-735-2336 or at the email address listed below. He has received a 10.0 rating from AVVO and recently was featured as a 5Star Wealth Manager in the Philadelphia Magazine, November 2009 issue on page 123.
    Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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  2. Karen Ann Ulmer

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . He can make a will without your consent. You have a statutory right to a certain percentage of assets upon death even if he leaves you out the will. It is called your elective share so you can challenge the will if he cuts you out unless there was a prenup in which you waived the elective share. Talk to him. He may wanted to provide for children from a first marriage and he is legally allowed to give them a share of some of the assets. A good alternative, however, is life insurance for the children.

  3. Steven Alan Fink

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . He can make a will without you as he obviously did. You can make a will without him. Were you surprised by finding the will or by the people he left his estate to?

    You need to speak to him about this betrayal of trust.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.

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