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3 steps to take if you wish to disinherit someone

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024

California allows you to distribute your assets as you please when you die. You are not obligated to leave someone something just because of your relationship with them.

While disinheriting people is relatively rare, you may have good reason to consider it. If you opt to disinherit someone who may otherwise have a claim to your property in the event of your death, make sure to take the following proactive steps.

Give yourself some time to be sure it is the right choice

You should not disinherit someone in the immediate aftermath of a falling out. Because, if you then die before you have time to calm down and reflect, they will have to live with that decision for the rest of their life. Make sure that the decision is sound, not rash.

Make your decision clear in your will

People who lose out and are unhappy about your choices might consider challenging your will. If you make it explicit that you are making a conscious decision to omit them, rather than just forgetting to include them, it reduces the possibility they can win a challenge.

You need to be careful about when you write this decision into your will. Do not do it the day just after you had a car crash, for instance, as the person whom you’re disinheriting might claim you only did it because you were suffering from temporary brain damage.

Consider explaining your decision to people

The person you disinherit may be more understanding if you explain why you are making the decision that you are. Others may also think badly of you if they do not understand why you are making this choice.

Remember, leaving someone out of a will does not need to be a punishment. It might be that a certain person already has plenty of money and you feel someone else could benefit more. Explaining your reasons while you still can reduces the chance that people will come to their own incorrect conclusions about why you have decided to craft your estate plan as you have.

Because this is such a sensitive issue, it is wise to seek legal guidance to better ensure that you do not leave any legal loopholes for someone to overturn your decision in court.