Have you become estranged one of your heirs? Sometimes, the apple falls far far away from the tree. I hate to sound satirical, but the good news is that you can easily disinherit the heir from receiving anything in your estate.
Disinheriting an Heir: The Right Way vs. The Wrong Way
You certainly shouldn’t just leave their name out of things and think that this will accomplish your goals of disinheriting them. The laws in most states will presume you intended to have them be an heir unless you specifically state otherwise.
Following your spouse, your children are the presumed heirs to your estate by law in the absence of an estate plan. As a result, it is important to complete an entire list of your children in the estate plan and to specifically mention any child who will not be an heir to your estate by stating something like, “I do not want *child’s name here* to receive anything from my estate.”
Other Ways to Provide for a Disinherited Heir
Perhaps you have a heart, and you still want to provide for that “bad apple”. But you also want to attach some “strings” to their inheritance. While you generally have freedom in deciding how to pass on your estate, there are some things you can’t do with a trust.
Limits on Trust Clauses
For example, a trust or will cannot be created and enforced to go against public policy, promote illegal activities or tortuous acts. One of the more popular clauses is one which requires a child to divorce their spouse in order for them to receive their inheritance.
For example, you can’t say, “Brad doesn’t get anything from the estate so long as he is married to Angelina.” Many courts view this as a violation of public policy as it promotes divorce.
Avoid clauses such as these and seek the guidance of an attorney when adding clauses which disinherit or significantly restrict a child’s inheritance.
Whatever you do, don’t ever state why you’ve disinherited someone in your will or trust. If you do, chances are that they’ll use hired guns to prove that you were “mentally unstable” when you wrote that.
Details like this are why you should form an estate plan with an experienced attorney. If you don’t have one, schedule your estate planning consultation today.