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Do people actually name their ex-spouses as heirs regularly, or is this what I expect it is - BS masquerading as news?


There are legal standards for wills, and wills have been invalidated in their entirety for violating these standards by failing to mention an heir that the law requires be accounted for.

So, particularly on larger estates, it's good practice to mention everyone who might possibly be considered an heir by some court somewhere.

I can definitely see the sense in including an ex-wife in this.

The old joke "To my cousin Harry, who swore I'd not mention him in my will: Hello, Harry!" - that's a mention. It counts. Harry cannot contest the will on the basis that he's a proper heir who was not accounted for.

Another common thing is a clause specifying that any heir who contests the will forfeits any claim to the estate - whatever was allocated to them instead goes into the residual pool and gets divided up among the other heirs. Thus any dissatisfied heir must choose between accepting what the will says, or contesting it and possibly getting nothing at all. (Not that this would bother Harry much.)

(I don't know how that would affect a suit that doesn't dispute the terms of the will, but asserts that the executor is mis-applying it and thus tendering to the plaintiff less than the plaintiff is entitled to under the will.)
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