What steps should you take to disinherit someone?

There are a number of reasons why someone planning their estate may want to exclude a specific family member from their last will, trust or estate plan. One reason could be that the heir in question has a history of spendthrift habits or addiction.

Issues with all kinds of addiction, from drugs to gambling, can cost thousands of dollars. Someone with an addiction who inherits a large amount of money could use that financial windfall to binge.

Other times, discord within the family leads to a decision to disinherit someone. Perhaps one of your family members was violent or abusive toward you. Maybe you had a falling out with one of your children years ago. Conflict is often a reason people choose to disinherit a loved one.

Finally, you might want to leave someone out of your will if they are doing significantly better than your other heirs. If one of your children is financially successful and the others are struggling, your estate will do more good if divided among fewer people. Regardless of the reason that you want to remove someone from your will, there are certain steps you need to take.

Mention your reasons in the will instead of just omitting the person

Regardless of why you choose to disinherit a child, sibling or other family member, you want to be explicit about what you are doing and why in your last will. You can reduce the risk of their eventually challenging your estate plan or last will. If every member of the family receives something except for one person, that person could claim that the omission of their name in the last will was an oversight.

Specifically addressing the fact that you have chosen not to bequeath anything to a member of your family helps ensure that your last will gets followed by the administrator of your estate or the probate courts.

Discuss your plans with your family

You should make sure that your family understands what you plan for your estate well before you have to worry about the end of your life. By being up front with your family about who will receive which assets and who will receive no assets, you reduce the risk that someone in your family will challenge the will after you pass on.

Surprises in an estate plan can lead to disappointment, which can inspire heirs to challenge your estate in probate court. If the members of your family know what to expect and why, they are more likely to respect your decisions and less likely to feel upset and shocked during the estate administration process. You may also want to consider adding a no-contest clause to your will.

While it may be uncomfortable to talk with a loved one about why you chose to omit them from your last will, having the conversation now helps protect your legacy in the future.

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