You Might Encounter Problems When Removing Immediate Family Members From A Will
Estate planning is a very personal process and something that is based on the relationships you have in your life. You might decide that you want to disinherit an immediate family member from your will, and this is a decision that is entirely up to you. However, there might be complications that are best dealt with in consultation with an estate planning lawyer.
The Right to an Inheritance
In many states, when an individual passes away, their immediate family members have the right to inherit. The spouse takes priority and the children and parents come next. However, if you have a will, you are allowed to use that will to disinherit family members.
However, you might not be able to completely disinherit your spouse because your assets are considered to be community property. Therefore, your assets will be partially owned by your spouse and they may have a right to them regardless of what is stated in your will.
Estrangement and Your Will
You are allowed to disinherit a child through estrangement but not a spouse. With a spouse, you would need to file for divorce and your ex would then be entitled to assets based on the laws regarding the state in which you reside.
You Must Explicitly Remove the Individual from the Will
If you decide to disinherit an offspring, not including them in the will is not enough. You must explicitly state that they are not to be included in the will. For example, the child who was not included in the will might challenge the will and claim that the omission of their name was a mistake. This is especially likely if the will was written before that individual was born or adopted.
Restrictions on Writing an Offspring from the Will
There are also laws that prevent you from disinheriting a child who is too young, with some exceptions. Therefore, if you are wondering if you will be able to disinherit a particular member of your family, you will always want to discuss this with an estate planning lawyer. Otherwise, the litigation that your family members might engage in can be expensive and your assets might not be distributed in the manner in which you intended.
Writing someone out of your will doesn't necessarily have to be due to estrangement. For example, you might have one family member who needs the most financial support and may wish to distribute more assets to that individual. But regardless of what you want to do with your will, it makes sense to discuss it with a lawyer.
For more information, contact an estate planning attorney near you.