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If you disinherit someone, they should still be included in the estate plan

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Estate Planning |

When you disinherit someone, it means that they were either a part of your estate plan or a direct descendent who expected to inherit it, and you are not going to be leaving them anything. This sometimes happens when parents and children are not on good terms. They may have been estranged for a few years, for example, and so the parent removes the child from the will.

You certainly can do this if you want, but don’t assume that just removing them is all you need to do. This can lead to estate disputes. That child may be very offended when they discover that they’ve been left out of the will. They may end up disputing it on the grounds that they believe other beneficiaries used undue influence, or they may just claim that you forgot about them and didn’t intend to cut them out of the will. Neither of these things may be true, but the estate dispute is still possible and can be difficult for your family.

What should you include?

The key is to include a clause in your estate plan that specifies, in writing, that you are intentionally disinheriting that specific individual. This way, they cannot claim that you forgot them. If you explain your decision in advance, it’s also more difficult for them to claim undue influence.

Some people address this by leaving a very small inheritance to the person that they are disinheriting, such as leaving them just a single dollar. You can do this if you would like, but it’s often better to use a disinheritance clause that makes your intentions known. You also have the option to explain these decisions to your beneficiaries in advance, although you are not obligated to do so.

Issues like this can make estate planning more complex than it would be otherwise. Always be sure you know what legal steps to take.