When an expectant heir finds out that they’ve been disinherited, shock usually quickly gives way to anger — and anger often leads to a bitter fight over the estate. If you intend to disinherit one of your close family members, here are a few things to consider first:
It might be better to talk about your decision. People take this step for all kinds of reasons. A clear understanding of why you are disinheriting this particular child or other relative is important to your plans.
If you’ve made this decision because you feel that your child has plenty of money of their own and you want your assets to go to charity, for example, you may want to have a discussion with your child about your plans. Similarly, if you’re doing this because you want to leave all but a few personal items to a disabled child (because your non-disabled children are able to take care of themselves), talk about your decision now. That can help you negotiate something fair and prevent your estate from being tied up in court and dissipated in a legal battle.
Think about ways to prevent a fight. For example, if you’re disinheriting an heir because you’ve had a falling out, you may want to consider leaving the unhappy heir a comparatively small (but not insignificant) amount in your estate and adding a no-contest clause in your will. A no-contest clause effectively says that your heir will lose what they are designated to receive if they challenge the will and lose.
You may also want to look into trusts. By placing your assets in a trust while you are alive, you may be able to keep them out of any disputes.
Effective estate planning isn’t just about writing wills and designating powers of attorney. It involves thinking ahead about potential problems and looking for useful solutions.