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

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.

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Attorney answers 3


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.

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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.

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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.
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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.