Does a Marriage Override a Trust in California?

If you married someone who passed away before they could write you into their will or trust, it is important to understand how California trust law works. In these situations, it is unfortunately common for former spouses and heirs to try to block you from claiming a share of the decedent’s estate, and it’s normal to ask yourself, Does a marriage override a trust in California? The answer is yes. And we are here to explain why

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless beneficiaries enforce their rights and claim the inheritance they are entitled to when others try to steal it from them. Here’s what you need to know about how a recent marriage impacts an estate and your rights to it. 

Does a Marriage Override a Trust in California?

When someone gets married, this has significant implications for their trust. 

Even if the surviving spouse isn’t mentioned in the current trust, they have a right to the estate. Under California probate law, a marriage automatically revokes (invalidates) any pre-existing will or trust regarding the new spouse’s inheritance rights, unless the documents provide for a new spouse or clearly indicate that the new spouse will receive nothing. This is called revocation by operation of law

“Essentially, when someone marries and doesn’t update their will or trust, these laws assume that the decedent would have wanted to provide for their new spouse but either forgot or didn’t have the opportunity to make the change. This law is referred to as ‘omitted spouse.’ As long as the decedent didn’t create a new trust after marriage that omitted you, you are entitled to a significant portion of the estate, and we can help you enforce your right to claim it.” 

Nicholas D. Porrazzo, Partner, Gokal Law Group

If the trust does not provide for a new spouse, they will receive what’s referred to as an intestate share of the decedent’s estate, regardless of the terms in the existing trust. Intestate refers to a situation where someone passes away without a will or trust.

By statute, the new spouse has a right to inherit all of the decedent’s property, half of their property, or one-third of their property depending on whether the decedent has any surviving children or relatives. Also, if the spouses had community property, the surviving spouse is entitled to all the community property. 

If you are a surviving spouse and previous spouses or other heirs are trying to block your inheritance, you have grounds for California trust litigation and a good chance of successfully claiming it. 

Related Article: California Probate Law: Does a Will Override a Trust?

Do You Need Help Claiming Property You Are Entitled To? Schedule a Consultation to Enforce Your Rights!

So, does a marriage override a trust in California? Yes, it does. If you married someone who passed away before they were able to mention you in their trust or will, it is important to understand that your marriage revokes all previous trust versions, giving you a legal right to inherit a portion of the estate. 

To enforce your rights and protect your inheritance against former spouses or other heirs, visit our Contact Page to schedule a free consultation.


The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and Gokal Law Group, Inc. All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. 

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