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Disinheritance Decisions

Inheritance disputes are as old as the Bible -- see Jacob and Esau. But now a broad, deep wave of acrimony is hitting the U.S. as 76 million baby boomers, born after 1946, inherit estates or die. According to one study by MetLife, boomers stand to inherit upwards of $8.4 trillion.

Figuring out who should inherit what, and why, has been a difficult subject from generation to generation. However, the more difficult subject has been who ought not to inherit anything, and why. In fact, disinheritance is probably a far more difficult topic, both for those planning for their estates and for families living out the ramifications of an estate plan.

How is "disinheritance" difficult? What should you consider before disinheriting a family member? This subject was the focus of a recent article in Bloomberg titled "You Want to Cut Your Kid Out of Your Will. Or Do You?"

For starters, there are some very good reasons to support a total disinheritance. Petty differences or outright malice aside, you may choose to disinherit heirs who are well off in their own right. Consequently, more of the inheritance can be left to those heirs who are less well off.

More commonly, however, a disinheritance is used due to parental displeasure or lack of familial contact. Before you decide to disinherit, be sure you will not have a change of heart later. If you do, then you may not have the legal "capacity" to make such a change to your estate plans.

Beyond your own decisions are the consequences to each of your heirs. Will it change relationships between those who inherited and those who did not? It is important to evaluate the cause and effect of your decisions on all concerned.

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