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Details of Tom Petty's inheritance remain unknown

The world was rocked this week with the news that world-famous singer and songwriter Tom Petty had passed away from cardiac arrest. With globally recognized classic songs and numerous #1 hits over his illustrious career, Petty has garnered sales on over 80 million records sold around the world.

The exact amount of the famed Florida-native's net worth is currently unknown. Also unidentified: Who will the legal beneficiaries of his fortune be?

Wills, wives, and where your money will go

Petty leaves behind an ex-wife of 22 years, two children and his current wife of 16 years. Having a will in place should determine where and how Petty's money is dispersed. However, in cases of celebrity estate plans, the administration of the estates don't always go as planned.

For instance, it may surprise you to learn that in some states, the law allows surviving spouses to file claims for inheritance despite what the will dictates.

California, where Petty owned property and passed away, is one of the states that follow community property laws. These laws allow a spouse to split assets 50/50 despite the financial amounts the deceased spouse may have left to other family members.

Florida, however, is one of the many states that follow common law. When it comes to inheritance laws within common law states, the spouse is not entitled to half of the interest in property. Though, the laws protect a spouse from disinheritance by allowing them to pursue one-third of the estate as long as he or she has not signed away the right to seek this amount.

As you can see, complications can arise when it comes to wills and spousal inheritances. If you are married, have an ex or plan to get married, then it can be a good idea to discuss your wishes regarding inheritance with an attorney.

You can better protect your inheritance and the actions dictated in your will with legal action attuned to your specific state laws. If you don't, it may be up to your surviving spouse, children or even the state to decide how your money is dispersed.

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