While most people take care of and plan for taxes during their lifetime, a lot of people don't do the same for death. However, it is certain that at some point, all of us will face death eventually. So, why not properly plan for when that should happen? This can be done through a proper estate plan. In particular, if you have any unique family dynamics and specific wishes about who is to receive an inheritance from your estate, then it is highly recommended that you set up a properly drafted estate plan to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
There may be a circumstance or situation that may result in your decision to disinherit and cut off one of your children from receiving an inheritance. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to know that while you do have the right to do this, there may be some considerations to make.
Keep Other Children Out of It
First, if you have more than one child and you are only disinheriting one of them, then it is recommended that you take some extra steps to prevent further conflict and a potential legal fight over your estate after you're gone. It is recommended that your other children not be involved as much as possible with the process of putting together the provisions to disinherit a child. This could be anything from paying for the updates, sitting in on the estate planning meeting with the lawyer, talking about or exchanging written communication about it, or even taking you to your meeting to see your lawyer. The reason why is because the disinherited child may potentially claim that there was undue influence on you by the other child(ren) and if there's potentially any evidence to support that, he or she may very well have a legitimate claim.
"No Contest Clause"
Additionally, if you do decide to disinherit one (or more) or your children, we recommend putting in a "no contest clause" in your estate plan. This is a clause that would provide that if a person were to challenge your estate plan, they would receive nothing. However, what this means is that in order for the no contest clause to be effective, the person would have to stand to lose something. In other words, an effective way for you to disinherit a child is to leave them something small or nominal and put the no contest clause in place so that if they were to contest the estate, they would effectively be opting to lose it all or take what smaller inheritance they stand to receive.
Communicate Your Wishes
Last, but certainly not least, it may be helpful to write a letter or a note, either to your estate or to your family about your wishes. This letter can explain your wishes and perhaps even detail out any reasons why you wish to disinherit one of your loved ones. While it may be painful, communicating your wishes in some form can also help to fend off any arguments or claims against your competence or capacity in making your decision.
Whether you have an estate plan or not, we invite you and your family to attend one of our upcoming free Living Trust Seminars to learn more about the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis and how we have helped service the estate planning needs of thousands of families throughout Southern California for over 37 years. Keep in mind, even if you already have an estate plan, it should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it is up-to-date with your wishes, laws and available planning strategies. At the conclusion of the seminar, all attendees will be offered a free consultation to come in and meet with an attorney. You can register to attend one of our seminars online or contact our main office at 1-800-756-5596. If you are unable to attend an upcoming seminar, please feel free to join our e-mail list and we will be sure to e-mail you of future seminar dates.