Do you need to leave $1 to disinherit someone?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Estate Planning |

You would like to disinherit someone from your will. Perhaps you are unhappy with the choices one of your adult children has made, or maybe you simply know that they don’t need the financial support and that the money would be better used elsewhere. You want to take them out of the estate plan. 

One tactic that people sometimes use is to leave a minimal inheritance to the person that they are cutting out of the will. For instance, you could leave that person just one dollar. They still do get an inheritance, but you essentially remove them from the estate plan at the same time.

Is this necessary?

But leaving a small inheritance, such as just one dollar, is not necessary. All you really have to do is identify the person that you are disinheriting. If you write a disinheritance clause that states who they are and explicitly tell the estate executor that you are removing them from the plan, that’s all you need to do. In fact, this may help the process go more smoothly, as some people see it as an insult to be left a very small inheritance.

So why do people do it? The issue is that a disinherited heir may try to claim that the will is fraudulent or that they were accidentally forgotten. Leaving them a dollar proves that they were not forgotten and that cutting them out of the will was intentional. This reduces the odds of an estate dispute.

But a disinheritance clause can do the exact same thing, identifying the person and showing intent. As you make your estate plan, be sure you know exactly what legal steps you can take to create the plan that will work best in your family’s unique situation.