Amending Your Will

To protect your will, you’ll want to insert a clause specifically and clearly stating that you chose to disinherit an heir and do not want them to inherit certain assets. You should also document your decision, and safeguard a signed, detailed explanation of the same.

You would be well-advised to have an attorney review any changes you make to a will and any other critical estate planning document because alterations which seem straightforward may not comply with California’s probate code.

Alternatives to Disinheriting a Relative 

If you’re not sure about the long-term consequences of disinheritance, there are other options you can pursue, including:

  • Creating a skip bequest, which allows you to disinherit a child while leaving an inheritance for their children (your grandchildren)
  • Creating an incentive trust, which only disburses funds or assets to an heir who meets the behavioral conditions you set (going to and graduating college, for instance)
  • Creating a no contest clause, which effectively disinherits any heir who tries to challenge your will

Incentive trusts have the added advantage of keeping your family affairs private since—unlike wills—they’re administered without court oversight.

Additionally, trusts are comparably flexible. Certain kinds of trusts can be easily altered while you’re still alive. You may add and disinherit heirs, set conditions for the disbursal of assets, and minimize the chances of your last wishes ending up in front of a judge.

Since disinheritance decisions can be challenged, legal experts don’t recommend making major changes to a will or trust without professional guidance. If you’re trying to rearrange the contents of your will or establish a trust, don’t run the risk of your estate being parceled out by a California probate court.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.