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Dealing with the Uncomfortable Decision of Disinheriting a Family Member

It’s not as uncommon as you might think for individuals to disinherit family members. However, estate planning is always a tricky subject. If you do intend to disinherit someone, it’s wise to discuss this with your attorney in Tracy or Livermore. This is because estate law approaches disinheritances in different ways, depending on that person’s relation to the testator of the will.

Making the Decision

The decision to disinherit a family member is entirely yours to make. People disinherit family members for a variety of reasons. Given the prevalence of estrangement in families, disinheritance often stems from the simple fact that the testator has no relationship with the family member. Or, perhaps the disinherited family member is already financially secure and doesn’t need the inheritance as much as other family members. If you’ve decided to disinherit someone purely because you believe that person will make poor financial decisions, consider asking your lawyer to set up a trust instead.

Understanding Disinheritance Laws

As your estate planning lawyer will advise you, you do have the right to distribute your own assets in any manner you please. However, you might not have full ownership in all of your assets. If you’re married, your spouse is legally entitled to half of the marital assets. In most cases, the only way to completely disinherit a spouse is if he or she agrees to be disinherited via a legal contract. If you’re separated from your spouse, getting a divorce finalized may be a more feasible option. Estate law is more flexible regarding the disinheritance of a child. In most states, children do not have the legal right to an inheritance.

Preventing a Will Contest

If you intend to disinherit a child, you may be tempted to simply make no mention of him or her in your will. Unfortunately, this may set the stage for a will contest. The disinherited child may contest the will out of the belief that it may not be valid. Instead of simply leaving the child out of the will entirely, it’s best to specifically state that you do not intend to leave any assets to a particular person. For the sake of familial harmony after your death, it may be wise to explain your reasoning in a separate letter to be opened after your death.
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