Not All Families Are Warm and Happy—How to Disinherit a Family Member

Much is made every November and December about spending time in the warm presence of your family, appreciating and caring for each other. If you belong to a close family we have plenty of posts on our blog about how you can protect and care for your family with an estate plan. But the sad truth is that not all families are happy, and estate planners learn that not everybody wants their parents or siblings (or even, on rare occasions, their children) to benefit from their wealth upon their death.

It’s not as unusual as you may think for someone to ask “How do I make sure my money won’t go to my family when I die?” The answer to this question is actually very easy—if you’ve had the foresight to create some kind of estate plan, that is. Without any kind of estate planning (a will or a trust, for example) the law automatically distributes your estate to your closest living relatives upon your death. But the simple act of creating a will or a trust can prevent this automatic distribution from happening.

A will or a trust can be as basic or as complex as you choose. Simply naming the people or organizations of your choice as your heirs is often enough to ensure that your wishes are followed, but if you are worried about relatives who may contest your wishes you may want to ask your attorney about stronger measures, such as including a disinheritance clause or a no-contest clause in your will or trust. This can be as simple as including a single sentence stating “I have specifically chosen not to provide for my brother John.”

We understand that not all families are the same, and not all people will want their wealth distributed in the usual manner. If you have a unique family situation, or unusual circumstances or requests, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. We can help.

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