Disinheriting someone can be a controversial process, and it is not something that most people do lightly. Doing so means removing a direct heir from your estate plan, so that someone who expected to inherit assets from you will not get anything.
It’s generally assumed that this is done for a negative reason. For example, maybe a parent and a child had a falling out when they were younger and have not spoken in decades. But there are also positive reasons to disinherit someone. Perhaps that person is doing so well financially that they don’t need an inheritance, and it can be better used by distributing the money to their siblings. No matter why you want to do it, here are some tips that can help.
Make it official with documentation
First of all, make sure that you have an estate plan and that it addresses exactly what you would like to have happen. Put documentation making your wishes known into this plan. For example, instead of simply not mentioning the person, add a disinheritance clause to say that you fully know that they are being left out of the estate plan. This can limit the chances that the heir will dispute that plan because they can’t claim that this goes against your wishes or that it was simply an oversight. You may also consider a No Contest clause.
Talk to them in advance
Along similar lines, it may help to talk to the individual and tell them why you’ve made the decision long before the will is read. If they have any questions about it, then the two of you can talk about it together. This doesn’t ensure that they will be happy with that decision, but it does reduce the odds of a dispute yet again.
Leave a letter explaining your choices
Naturally, if you and your heir are estranged, you may not be able to talk in person. In a situation like this, you can add a letter to your estate plan that simply explains the decisions that you have made. This can help to show that those actually are your official decisions, and it can also answer some of your heir’s questions about why you took that action.
As you can see, communication and planning are the most important elements here. Be sure you know exactly what legal steps you can take.