If you have had a major falling out with a family member, you may want to legally disinherit them. This term simply means you leave them nothing in your will. Legally, they are not entitled to any asset or part of your estate. Of course, as with any legal action related to your estate, there are specific rules about who can be disinherited and the best course of legal action to disinherit that person.
Leaving Someone Out of the Will
Some people decide to simply not list a child, relative, or other person in their will. While that does mean they get nothing, it also leaves them an opening to challenge your will in court. They can claim that they were accidentally disinherited. This means they believe you forgot to add them to your will. That’s why people are generally encouraged to add a line stating that they are specifically leaving no assets to that person.
It is possible to accidentally disinherit someone you do want to leave an inheritance. This often happens when a person doesn’t update their will after they have a child, get married/divorce, adopt, or other similar event. If this has occurred and you haven’t updated your will, you need to do so.
Who Can You Legally Disinherit?
Now let’s look at who you can and cannot disinherit:
- Your Spouse – Spouses cannot be disinherited. The only way to leave them none of your personal assets is through a prenuptial agreement. States often have specific laws regarding spouses and inheritance that could be used to challenge your will.
- Children – You can disinherit adult children. Minor children, however, are generally protected by specific inheritance laws because they cannot care for themselves.
- Parents – If you believe your parents may outlive you, you can disinherit them. Legally, parents are not entitled to any part of a child’s estate.
- Extended Family – Likewise, any extended family members are not entitled to any part of your estate. Often, they can be omitted without worrying about a legal challenge, but you can specify that they are to receive no inheritance if you believe that’s not the case.
Let Us Assist in Creating Your Will
If you want to disinherit someone and are concerned that they will challenge your will, we can help. The professionals here at Michael F. Kanzer & Associates have years of experience in creating wills that reflect our clients’ wishes. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.