Are There Restrictions on Who Can Be Named a Beneficiary in a Will?

July 27, 2020

A critical component of executing your Last Will and Testament is selecting your beneficiaries. Generally, you can name anyone you want to be a beneficiary with the exception of the witnesses signing the attestation clauses to validate your will. All beneficiaries must also be living. A deceased person cannot inherit property.

You can name your spouse, children, friends, extended relatives and even caregivers or professional service providers as beneficiaries but there are a few restrictions to consider.


In Maryland, you cannot disinherit your spouse. A spouse is entitled to an elective share of your estate.

Currently in Maryland if there are surviving children, the spouse may elect to take 1/3 of the deceased spouse’s net estate. If there are no children, the surviving spouse may elect to take ½ of the net estate.

A spouse may waive the right to an elective share in a prenuptial agreement or separation agreement.

Professional Services Providers

Another restriction to consider is that if you choose to leave an inheritance for a professional service provider such as your financial advisor, this is allowed, but may raise some red flags. If anyone chooses to contest your will this bequest will be reviewed to ensure you made it knowingly and willingly and not as the result of undue influence.


Also keep in mind that minors cannot inherit property outright. A legal guardian will need to be appointed or a trust will need to be established to safeguard the inheritance until the minor can assume ownership at the age of majority.

The beneficiaries you choose can receive all of your property, some of your property or even just one specific item. You decide how you would like your property divided and distributed.

When we draft a will or trust, we take all of these issues into consideration and make sure the language used in our estate documents leads to actualizing your ultimate estate planning goals. Contact Stouffer Legal today for a consultation at 443-470-3599.

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