Some people may have a sense of entitlement regarding their theoretical rights to an inheritance. They believe that due to the nature of their relationship with someone they deserve a significant portion of their estate. However, a testator planning their estate may have a very different opinion on the matter. A strained relationship with one of their children or other relatives may lead someone to decide that they want to disinherit one of their family members.
Yet, those seeking to eliminate the inheritance of a family member often make a mistake that may lead to that individual obtaining part of their estate anyway.
Omitting someone’s name is not enough
Those who choose to disinherit someone often feel conflicted or even a bit ashamed about the decision. They may never talk about it with their family members. They might even fail to mention it specifically in their estate plan. Instead, they simply eliminate any assets designated for one presumptive beneficiary.
This approach may lead to the disinherited individual contesting the estate plan. They might be able to convince the courts that their exclusion from the documents was an error, not an intentional act on the part of the testator.
Therefore, those planning to disinherit a specific individual often need to mention that desire in their documents and may need to provide advance warning to their family members so the choice doesn’t come as a surprise during the reading of their will. Some people choose to leave a dollar or other small assets to a disinherited person to prevent a challenge against their estate.
Discussing one’s legacy wishes, possibly involving disinheritance, with an attorney might help someone more easily achieve their goals for their estate.