An estate plan should reflect what you want to happen in terms of the care you receive at the end of your life and how you want your property distributed. These are intensely personal decisions and putting them into legally valid documents like a Will can ensure your wishes are respected.
That said, there are times when people will contest or challenge a Will or trust. One situation that can trigger disputes among beneficiaries is a decedent’s decision to disinherit someone. If you are thinking of disinheriting someone, consider the following tips to protect your wishes.
Do know what disinheriting does
Disinheriting someone means preventing them from receiving any money or property of yours after you pass away.
There are many reasons why people disinherit a child or someone else entitled to inherit, from estrangement to financial motivations. Whatever the reason may be, know that disinheriting someone is not a small act.
Don’t overlook alternatives
There are alternatives to disinheriting someone. Depending on the reason for wanting to disinherit someone, you could still achieve your goals by:
- Setting up a trust
- Considering equitable gifts, as opposed to equal gifts
- Leaving someone sentimental property instead of valuable property
Do be clear and explicit
Once you decide to disinherit someone, make your wishes clear and explicit in your Will. Simply leaving the person out could be misconstrued as a mistake or oversight. This could be an especially realistic argument if you experience dementia at some point.
To avoid this, specify your wish to disinherit someone clearly in your Will. You might also decide to give a brief explanation of your choice to prevent confusion, but it is not necessary.
Don’t keep your wishes secret
You should also discuss your decision with the person who will serve as your personal representative. Doing so allows you to express your reasoning behind disinheritance further so that at least one other person can attest to your decision.
Whether disinheritance is going to be a surprise or not, failing to state and protect your wishes accordingly can be hurtful and confusing. A messy disinheritance can trigger lengthy legal battles that deplete estate resources. And at the end of these disputes, the person you wanted to disinherit could ultimately prevail.
The attorneys at Quinn Law Firm are available to discuss ways to protect your estate planning goals, including disinheritance. You can call 814-833-2222 to talk about your options.