Estate Planning, Legacy, Probate, Real Estate, Trusts, Wealth, Will Contests

Can Your Spouse’s Mistress Steal Your Home?

They say humans are complex creatures. And I couldn’t agree more.

Sometimes life takes a different path than anticipated.

Sometimes marriages take many forms and shapes.

And, sometimes one of the spouses decides that they are going to stay married but have a relationship with someone outside of the marriage.

Again, no judgment, but sometimes these situations spill into a complicated circumstance where the spouse wants to give everything they have to their extra-marital partner and not their spouse.

So what happens when a spouse bequests everything to their non-spouse partner?

Well, in Texas, it’s a little complicated, but bear with me.

Texas is a community property state. This means that the spouses split the assets earned during the marriage evenly between themselves upon one of their deaths regardless who worked or earned more in the marriage.

50% goes to the deceased spouse, and 50% goes to the living spouse.

Now, in most spousal circumstances, the deceased spouse will give their 50% share to the surviving spouse, so the surviving spouse gets the entire 100%.

But, in this circumstance, 50% is going to the mistress, and 50% is going to the wife.

Other than the drama that is bound to ensue, what happens to the surviving spouse if the mistress wants to sell her half of the home? What if she wants to sell the car?

Does the surviving spouse have to listen to the demands of the mistress?

No.

In fact, in Texas, there is something called the Homestead Exemption. This means that the surviving spouse is entitled to live in the home for the entirety of their life, even if, on paper, the deceased spouse gave that house to someone else.

It also means that the surviving spouse is free to use the car, and she is entitled to a couple of other assets to essentially guarantee her quality of life during her lifetime, regardless is the deceased spouse’s will says otherwise.

So, yes, there will be drama. But it will be a slow burn over the life of the surviving spouse, and not all at once upon the deceased spouse’s death.

Hope you enjoyed your episode of estate planning Jerry Springer for the day!