I was recently involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, since it was my first accident, I was scatter-brained and anxious. What I did not realize at the time was that the actions you take immediately after the accident can affect a personal injury case and the outcome of that case. I wanted to find a way to share my experiences and mistakes with other. Since the Internet is so popular, I figured this would be a great way to do so. While you likely aren't planning on being in an accident soon, if you are, hopefully you remember some of the tips I share on this website.
To disinherit somebody is to exclude him or her from receiving your properties upon your demise. These are properties that he or she would have received under the intestacy laws of your state. However, before you disinherit somebody, you should know these three things:
Merely Omitting Your Child's Name May Not Be Enough
In many states, merely failing to mention a child in your will does not mean that you have disinherited him or her. You may think it is enough, but the court may disagree because it doesn't want to deny your loved ones chances of getting assets that they deserve (probably) without your express direction to do so. For example, how is the court to know that it was not simply an error and that you just forgot to include the person?
An adult child might argue, for example, that you didn't mention him or her because he or she had been away from home for such a long time that you assumed he or she was dead. Therefore, if you don't want to give them something, mention them but put it down that you are leaving them nothing.
There Are People You Can't Disinherit
You should also know that there are also some dependents that you can't disinherit. For example, you can't disinherit your spouse or minor children. Even if you update your will to mention that you are leaving them nothing, you are just engaged in a futile exercise. This is because these are people whom you are legally obligated to help.
A 'No Contest' Clause Doesn't Prevent Contests
A popular way of preventing heirs from fighting over inheritance is to insert a 'no contest' clause. Such a clause specifies that if a beneficiary doesn't meet a certain condition (for example, if he or she contests your will and loses), then he or she automatically loses his or her inheritance.
Some people believe, however, that a 'no contest" clause bars all your beneficiaries and heirs from contesting the will, but that is not the case at all. Rather, it's just a means of discouraging them, but they can still mount contests if they wish to do so. It is the court's decision to determine whether or not they have legal grounds for doing that. Moreover, there are even states that limit such clauses and may not enforce them or only enforce them under certain conditions.
As you can see, it is easy to assume that you are disinheriting someone while, in reality, you are just setting up your potential beneficiaries for a nasty fight. If you have to do it, then consult an attorney like Woehrle Franklin Dahlberg Jones PLLC to prevent future problems.