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Can I disinherit someone peacefully?

Creating a will is intensely personal. You want it to reflect your values and wishes, and you likely want to protect those you love. However, there could be some very difficult decisions you must make to achieve these goals. For instance, what if you want to disinherit someone?

Disinheriting someone can present some challenges for the testator (the person creating a will), the disinherited party, and others who may be affected by any challenges that arise because of this decision. As such, it can be wise to consider a few ways to minimize conflict stemming from disinheritance.

Be deliberate

If you intend to leave a sibling, child, or another heir out of your will, it can be a mistake to simply ignore that person and assume that is enough. By not mentioning him or her in your estate plan, you could leave room for challenges. Someone might argue that you forgot or didn’t intentionally leave him or her out, meaning your property could still pass in accordance with state succession laws.

As such, if you want to disinherit an heir, state as much in your estate plan. Be clear and specifically give the person’s name. Then state that you intentionally are leaving them out.

Consider alternatives

Depending on your reason for wanting to disinherit someone, there may be alternatives that allow you to achieve the same goals without creating conflict.

For instance, you might instead set up a trust to control when and if a person receives finances. You might also leave personal items to someone who you love but who is well-off and does not need the same financial gifts others may.

Talk to your loved ones

Whatever you decide to do, be sure that you discuss your wishes with your loved ones. If you disinherit someone, take the time to explain to that person or others why you are doing so to avoid dramatic fights and surprises.

When you are clear with your decisions and deliberate in your estate plan documents, you can hopefully accomplish your goals without creating unnecessary conflict or anger among your loved ones.