One of the hardest choices a testator may have to make during estate planning is disinheriting a close family member. However, the law provides for individuals to have control over the distribution of their assets after death.
While disinheriting a family member is a sensitive and personal decision, there are several reasons why someone might choose to do so. Here are four common reasons:
A strained or broken relationship between the testator and the family member is a common reason for disinheritance. If there has been a prolonged period of estrangement, conflict, or a communication breakdown, the testator may choose to exclude the family member from their inheritance.
2. Protecting the interests of birth children
In blended families, where one or both spouses have children from previous relationships, a person may choose to disinherit a family member to ensure the financial well-being of their biological children. The testator may want to prioritize the inheritance of their birth children, especially if they have been responsible for their upbringing and financial support.
3. Financial irresponsibility
A testator may decide to disinherit a family member due to concerns about their financial irresponsibility. If the individual has a history of mismanaging finances, accumulating debt, or engaging in risky financial behavior, the testator may fear that leaving them an inheritance could exacerbate these issues or lead to the squandering of family assets.
In such cases, the testator may choose to protect the family’s financial legacy by excluding the financially irresponsible family member from the inheritance.
4. Differing priorities
Sometimes, a testator may decide to disinherit a family member if they believe that the individual is solely interested in financial gain and lacks genuine care or concern for the well-being of the family. This decision could stem from a desire to ensure that their assets are distributed among individuals who value familial connections rather than those who prioritize financial gain.
When disinheriting someone, it is important to include a specific written statement that explains who is being disinherited and the reasons for your decision. It is best to understand the legal options you have to ensure a smooth process.