Disinheriting a Family Member in Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning often involves the process of ensuring an individual’s family is taken care of in the event of incapacity or death, as well as determining who will receive an inheritance. However, in some instances, family members need to be specifically excluded from receiving bequests under Estate Planning documents.

There can be any number of reasons for this. After the death of a loved one, family members can be at odds. The family members may have simply grown distant, or they may be more likely to cause trouble to an estate by instituting estate litigation. In any case, specific family members can be disinherited. In order to do this, certain formalities need to be followed.

First, it is important to review what Estate Planning typically involves. Estate Planning includes incapacity planning documents (durable power for health care, durable power of attorney for finances as well as a HIPAA Release), a last will and testament and a revocable living trust. Incapacity planning documents are put in place to avoid the necessity of guardianship in the event an individual becomes incapacitated. The last will and testament and revocable living trust are the dispositive documents that provide for asset distributions and dictate what occurs when an individual dies.

The disinheritance language should be included in the dispositive documents. This language could be as simple as “I disinherit my daughter from receiving any bequests” or it could be more expansive and detailed. Such language should be included in all of the dispositive documents (including the last will and testament and revocable living trust). In cases of married couples, the disinheritance language should be included in both of the husband and wife’s Estate Planning to allow for consistency.

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