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How can family members be disinherited?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2021 | Trusts, Wills

The old saying that blood is thicker than water is not always true. Many families experience years of conflict, which can come to a head when a person dies and family members realize they have been left out of the will. 

Who receives your assets after you are gone is a personal choice, and you are entitled to leave certain people out if you feel their exclusion is warranted. However, you must ensure you are making these decisions with strong legal backing to prevent disputes from arising. Kiplinger explains how you can effectively disinherit a family member. 

Implement a no-contest clause

No-contest clauses stipulate that if a person named in the will disputes their inheritance, they will receive nothing. This is beneficial for keeping stress and contention low when your will is being administered. Some people pair a no-contest clause with an intentionally meager inheritance, such as one dollar. This often backfires, since the recipient will have nothing to lose by contesting the will. Instead, consider providing a larger sum, so the person has greater motivation to just accept it and move on. 

Keep certain assets out of your will

It is possible to pass along assets without including them in your will. For example, filling out beneficiary designations on life insurance policies means these assets will automatically pass along to the named beneficiary when you die. They will not be included in your will and cannot be probated. With bank accounts, you can stipulate that you would like funds to transfer on death to a specific beneficiary. You can also develop a living trust for property. 

Supplement your will with other documents

Wills are legal documents, meaning they must meet certain terms and stipulations to be considered binding. Including reasons for disinheriting a relative within the will itself will have little impact on the court. However, including other documents with your will, such as notarized letters and memorandums that detail your reasoning can prove illuminating in court. 

Choosing to disinherit a family member is never easy. Consulting with a legal professional will apprise you of all your options and ensure the choice you end up making is legally sound.