Houser Firm

A common mistake made when disinheriting someone

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Estate Planning

The primary objective of many individuals putting together an estate plan is arranging for the distribution of their property to their closest family members in the event of their death. However, there are some people whose top priority involves keeping their assets out of certain people’s hands rather than providing for them.

Children and grandchildren are among those who might expect to receive property from someone’s estate when they die, and they often feel that sense of entitlement regardless of their personal behavior or the state of their relationship with that individual. Perhaps a member of the family has engaged in very inappropriate conduct, such as crimes against other family members. Maybe they are simply estranged from an individual who is creating an estate plan.

Those who want to disinherit another person often make a specific mistake when putting together their estate planning paperwork. Avoiding this misstep is going to be important if you want to keep a specific heir from inheriting any of your assets.

They simply take the person out of their will

What seems like the simplest solution for disinheriting someone is actually not very effective. Often, testators name all of their family members individually in their estate planning paperwork and include instructions about what each person should receive. It would seem perfectly logical to assume that all it would take to disinherit one of those selected beneficiaries would be to remove their name from the will. However, that individual could then potentially challenge the will in court. They might try to convince a judge that their omission was not intentional but was instead an oversight or accident.

Therefore, testators will need to take another step or a completely different approach to disinheriting a family member in Texas. Sometimes, the easiest option involved specifically referencing the decision to disinherit someone including them by name in the will. Other times, the testator will choose to leave them a small or symbolic bequest, such as $10 or a single personal item with minimal financial value.

Limiting or eliminating the inheritance of children and grandchildren is possible for those who are careful with their wills or who create trusts. However, generally speaking, disinheriting one’s spouse using such tactics typically will not work, as spouses have certain rights under community property laws. Ultimately, discussing one’s legacy wishes with a Texas estate planning attorney can help an individual put together documents that achieve their intended goals for the distribution of their property.