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Can my Husband Make a Will Without my Knowledge?

Posted on Tue Jun 23, 2020, on Estate Planning

From Our “Ask a Question,” Mailbag: “Can my Husband Make a Will Without my Knowledge?”

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Estate Planning Lawyer, Peter Klenk

Can my Husband Make a Will Without my Knowledge?

An adult can make a valid will without notifying their wife or husband.  Not telling a spouse would be unusual, but not illegal. 

What is a Valid Will? (Hint, telling your spouse is not on the list).

There are four main requirements in a valid will:

  1. When signing the will, the testator must have had testamentary intent;
  2. At the time of signing, the testator must have testamentary capacity;
  3. The testator must have signed the will free of fraud, duress, undue influence or mistake; and
  4. The testator must execute the will following the state’s rules.

Whether married or single, these are the four elements to consider. 

For example, if George Montgomery doing his estate planning New Jersey wanted a will without telling his wife, he could do so. As long as he wished to the document to manage his assets when he died (testamentary intent), was competent at the time he signed, was under no undue pressure to make the will, and signed the will following New Jersey law, the will is valid.

For more information about what is a valid will, follow this link to my article about Estate Planning

Can my Husband Make a Power of Attorney Without my Knowledge?

Yes, your husband can name someone else as his Agent Under a Power of Attorney without telling you.  In certain circumstances, such as when one spouse has health issues, this is common. 

For example, Martha Montgomery’s husband has dementia. As part of her estate planning New Jersey review, she may have her estate planning lawyer draft a new Power of Attorney. She could name her two children as Co-Agents. These Co-Agents would have the power to manage her assets if she became ill. She would not have to tell her husband about this new Durable Power of Attorney.

Another example, Charlie Montgomery’s wife had a stroke and became bedridden. Charlie has medical issues, and could quickly need someone to speak for him should he fall ill. While his wife was incapacitated, he named his daughter his Medical Power of Attorney. The new medical power of attorney gave his daughter the right to make medical decisions for him if he became incapacitated. Charlie has no obligation to tell his wife about this new Medical Power of Attorney.

For more information, follow this link to read more about Living Wills and this link to learn more about Durable General Powers of Attorney.

In Conclusion: Can my Husband Make a Will Without my Knowledge?

I hope you found helpful this short article responding to the question, Can my Husband Make a Will Without my Knowledge.  I have also included some links for more detailed information. If you are curious about updating your Will, Power of Attorney, or Living Will, contact us and let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. 

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