When celebrities disinherit their heirs, it creates some juicy gossip and clickbait. Making this decision for yourself, however, can feel heavy and overwhelming.

There are many reasons why you may choose to disinherit a child or relative. Maybe your heir has become financially successful and no longer needs the money from your estate. Perhaps you no longer have a relationship with the heir. Maybe large sums of money would be detrimental to this person. Whatever the reason, disinheriting an heir can be a difficult and emotional decision, one that should be made with caution. This weighty decision comes with many consequences, some which you maybe haven’t thought of yet.

Considerations of Disinheriting an Heir

  • If you choose not to disclose to your heir that you intend to disinherit them, your will could be contested. The heir may argue that you forgot to include them on accident, and this can lead to a lengthy and expensive legal battle. Because of this, it is important the documents are drafted carefully and accurately by a trained professional with legal expertise.
  • If you decide to leave out a child or relative in your will because they are financially successful, what happens if their financial situation changes, or they lose their job? The heir may need that inheritance just as much as the other heirs, but by disinheriting them, they may experience unexpected, and disappointing, consequences.
  • An heir may be disinherited because of their lifestyle or poor money management. An alternative to disinheritance is to establish a trust fund to allow the trustee the discretion to disburse or withhold funds. You could provide your own set of specific requirements to be met before the heir is able to receive any of the money.
  • While you won’t be there to deal with the consequences, keep in mind that a disinheritance can cause hurt feelings and leave irreparable rifts in family relationships. For this reason, this isn’t a decision to be made lightly as the ripples will exist long after you are gone.
  • If you die without a valid will, your estate will be subject to your state’s intestate laws. That means this person may inherit part of your estate, even if that wasn’t what you desired.

If part of your estate planning includes disinheriting a child or relative, it is important to make your intentions of disinheritance clear in the will or trust. Specifically stating your intention of disinheriting your child will discourage a will contest. There is no need to give a reason on why you are disinheriting your child. By clearly stating your intentions, your child or relative cannot argue that they were accidentally left out as a beneficiary of your estate.

It is also important to check your beneficiary designations and update them if necessary. Beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, are often overlooked. Disinheriting a child or relative in your estate plan will not change these beneficiary designations. If you decide to disinherit a child or relative, make sure all your assets are titled properly and all your beneficiary designations are updated.

Disinheriting an heir should be done with caution and with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Schromen Law, LLC is here to help you with these difficult discussions. We can assist clients with any questions regarding disinheriting children and carrying out their estate planning goals. Contact us at any time!

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader.  The views expressed in this article are not a statement of support or endorsement by Schromen Law, LLC.  The information contained herein is not offered as legal or medical advice and should not be construed as legal or medical advice.


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