There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and someone who can’t wait until you die. Inheritance refers to giving property to an individual upon your death. To disinherit means refusing to leave your property to a would-be heir. For most people, the term “disinherit” is a dirty, cruel word. For you, it may not be a dirty world, but a way to express your final wishes.
Reasons to Disinherit
The reasons to disinherit a family member are extremely personal and range from emotional to business decisions. Some common reasons people disinherit include:
1. Estrangement between you and a family member
2. Protecting the interest of your birth children over your stepchildren
3. Allocating money and assets to a deserving family member
4. The family member received your money and assets while you are alive
5. You believe your relative only wants your money
Disinheritance Factors to Consider
The threat of disinheriting a spouse or child seems powerful (especially when you see the dramatization portrayed on a television and movie). However, disinheriting immediate family members isn’t always as easy as a subplot in a movie or television series. If you are thinking about disinheriting a child or spouse from your will, you have to do more than just leave their name from the document.
In California, you can’t disinherit a spouse unless:
• You clearly and intentionally explain your decision in your will
• You include evidence that you left property and assets to your spouse outside your will or trust. This evidence must be included in the will.
• Your spouse waived rights to inherit from you in a valid, signed agreement such as a pre-nuptial agreement.
In California, you are permitted to disinherit your children or any other family members from your will as long as your wishes are clearly stated.
The most efficient way to handle disinheriting someone is to leave a small amount of money to the disinherited relative and include a no contest clause to prevent them from challenging the will.
If you’re struggling with this difficult decision, contact the Law Offices of Joel A. Harris, we can help you make the right decision for you – and your family. You’ve worked too hard to leave your family’s future to chance.