A little-known secret for Oregon residents is that your will is revoked when you marry.  As a consequence, your property passes as if you had no will.  If you have children from a prior marriage, your estate will be evenly divided between your children and your spouse.  And if you have no children, your spouse will receive everything.  This is usually a huge shock to children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, charities, etc. that are named as beneficiaries under your will.

Several exceptions soften the general rule.  First, the will is not revoked if it specifically states that it is not revoked by marriage (which few wills do).  Second, the will is not revoked if it was prepared in contemplation of marriage.  Finally, the will is not revoked if the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement.  See Oregon Revised Statute 112.305.

Especially for those marrying later in life (or on a second marriage), it makes sense to visit a lawyer before marriage and determine what is necessary to ensure your wealth passes in the desired manner.

Washington has a similar law, which I will cover in the next post.  See RCW 11.12.095.

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