November 27, 2013   Inheritance

How to Disinherit a Family Member

When planning your estate, you have the right to distribute your assets any way you choose. There are a myriad of reasons why a person may decide to disinherit a would-be beneficiary from taking under his or her estate. The method of disinheriting a person depends on what their relationship to you is.
If You Would Like to Disinherit Your Spouse
Unless your spouse agrees in writing, it is impossible to disinherit him or her completely. If your spouse agrees to be disinherited, he or she must either abandon you or agree to be disinherited through a legal contract. Otherwise, state law protections will keep a decedent’s surviving spouse from getting nothing from the decedent’s estate. In most states, a spouse who has not agreed to be disinherited but was left out of his or her spouse’s will receives half of the assets acquired during marriage.
If You Would Like to Disinherit a Child
In contrast to your spouse, your child has no right to take from your estate. Therefore, if you wish to disinherit a child, you may do so through your will. Because state law governs estate distribution, however, it is important to review state laws to determine that your disinheritance strategy is incompliance with state law.
Be Sure to Protect Your Decision
If you decide to disinherit a would-be beneficiary, it is important to employ strategies that will protect your estate plan from a long and costly court battle. One such strategy is simply to discuss your reasons in your will. For example, should you decide to disinherit a child who is well off and doesn’t need the inheritance, outline this in your estate plan. 

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