How to Disinherit an Heir
Jordan: Hi, I’m Jordan Flake. I’m an attorney at Clear Counsel Law Group. I do estate planning. Sometimes we have clients who want to disinherit one of their family members. That’s perfectly fine. We understand that sometimes that’s necessary. We get this question: Under what circumstances can I disinherit an heir?
I think first and foremost is really important to reinforce the idea that when we’re talking about your estate planning it truly is your estate planning. The same way that during your life no one can tell you how you should or shouldn’t spend your money, it’s yours, you can do whatever you want with it, that same principle applies in estate planning. It’s your estate. You can plan it however you want. Our job as attorneys is to simply facilitate that and also to let you know if there are some considerations that you might want to think about when making your estate planning.
In terms of disinheritance, you can just disinherit anyone at any time. Now, there might be certain circumstances where the disinheritance might not stand up. If you try to disinherit completely your spouse, you might run into a situation where community property laws in Nevada prevent you from really accomplishing all of that. You could disinherit perhaps as to much of your separate property, but there’s going to be community property issues. That’s one of the many things you have to take into consideration.
Another thing is simply that if you don’t specifically disinherit, you can run into problems. Say for example you have three kids. Let’s say instead of disinheriting the third you simply just say, “I want number one and number two to have 50% each.” The implementation is that number three doesn’t get anything. If you do that and you leave out the specific disinheritance of number three, number three can come into court after you pass away and say, “Oh, mom made a mistake. She really just intended for all three of us kids to have it equally. She’s just forgot to list me down there.”
That number three child has a chance of blowing up the distribution scheme. It’s a much better practice to actually use the correct language to specifically disinherit those people who you don’t want to have in there any longer. That’s a good reason to come see an attorney about it. Any follow-up questions on this one?
Brian: Does it make sense to put language in the disinheritance as to why you may have taken someone out?
Jordan: It may or may not make sense. Estate planning is just about peace of mind. If you don’t want to address it, that’s fine. I have some clients who the reason they disinherit is because they bought that kid a house. It’s not because they dislike them. It’s because they already did a big huge financial favor and they think that everything else needs to go to the other two kids. In that situation, it might make sense to say, “I have previously provided for child number three. Therefore I’m giving my estate to children number one and two.” That might make sense. If the situation is a big traumatic family thing that was the subject of many years of turmoil and dispute, it might not make sense to include all of that in the estate plan. Just keep it simple and disinherit the party that needs to be disinherited. Any other follow-up on this?
Jordan: All right. If you are thinking about doing your estate planning and you want to disinherit someone, it needs to be done currently, and that’s a good reason to come see us for a free consultation. We’ll help make sure that you accomplish that.