Your will and estate plan should reflect your wishes and allow you to preserve your legacy in a manner you decide. However, these things can come under fire if your wishes involve unusual or controversial elements.
For instance, you may wish to disinherit someone. While you may have the right to do this, there are steps you can take to ensure your decision does not create unnecessary conflict and legal contests.
Tip #1: Know the rules for disinheritance
When you disinherit someone, you prevent them from receiving any of your property or money after you pass away.
In most cases, children and grandchildren are the ones affected by disinheritance. In some states, you can disinherit a spouse, though that is not possible in California unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Tip #2: Consider alternatives
Disinheritance is an emotional decision, and it can leave loved ones hurt and angry in the wake of your passing. As such, you should consider possible alternatives to disinheritance that could achieve the same goal.
For instance, if you want to prevent a child from wasting an inheritance, consider setting up a trust with restrictions on when and how funds are released. If one of your children is much more affluent than the others, consider leaving him or her an item of sentimental value instead of money. If you have a bad relationship with an heir, you could do as this article from The Balance suggests and leave him or her $1 as evidence that you did not overlook them.
Tip #3: Be explicit
Disinheriting someone can seem simple. People think, “You just leave the person out of your will, right?” It’s not that easy, though.
Leaving someone out of a will can be seen as an oversight or error. As such, it is crucial to state that you are disinheriting someone explicitly. You can also choose to include an explanation of why, although that is not necessary.
Tip #4: Protect your wishes
If you still decide to disinherit someone, make sure you protect this wish. Work with an attorney to create a valid will, update your beneficiary designations and notify your personal representative. These steps make it easier to respect and fulfill your wishes, whatever they may be.