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Top 4 Reasons You Might Disinherit a Family Member

Posted on in Estate Planning and Probate

San Antonio estate planning lawyerEveryone who disinherits an immediate family member has their own personal reasons for doing so. These reasons tend to fall into one of a few categories. If there is someone who would naturally inherit from you, such as your spouse, adult children, or parents if you have neither, and you do not want them to receive a part of your estate, there are a few steps you may need to take. It is not always good enough to simply omit a natural heir’s name from your will. Always tell your estate planning attorney if you intend to disinherit an immediate relative so that they can take steps to make sure your wishes are respected. 

What Are the Most Common Reasons for Disinheriting a Close Relative? 

The decision to leave a close family member who would otherwise inherit out of your estate plan can be a difficult one. However, there are numerous very valid reasons for doing so. The more common ones include: 

  • Estrangement - You have not seen or heard from the individual for years and no longer want to leave anything to them as a result. 
  • Needs - In some cases, it is quite reasonable to consider the needs of your would-be heirs when making an estate plan. For example, if you have two living adult children, one of whom is independently wealthy, and one of whom has significant disabilities and cannot provide for themselves, you may wish to leave your entire estate to the one who truly needs the money. 
  • Prior gifts - If you have already provided significant financial support or gifts to a potential heir during your lifetime, you may want to divide your estate among others. 
  • Responsibility - There might be an individual you would not necessarily trust with an inheritance. If, for example, someone closely related to you has a drug addiction, leaving them a large sum of money may ultimately do more harm than good. In some cases, using a trust rather than a will to make controlled distributions to an irresponsible relative may solve this problem.

It is important to note that there are limitations on one’s ability to disinherit a spouse. Texas is a community property state, and your spouse is entitled to keep their half of the community property no matter what you put in your will. Additionally, you cannot disinherit a minor child. Your child is entitled to receive support from both parents - you could no more disinherit a minor child than you could simply stop financially supporting them during your lifetime. 

Your attorney may recommend taking steps like leaving clear language in your will stating that you expressly intend to disinherit an individual. You may also need to revoke any previous will that does provide an inheritance for the person you now wish to leave out. 

Call a Bexar County Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are interested in making or altering a will, contact Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law. Our experienced San Antonio wills and trusts attorneys are skilled at designing wills that carry out each individual client’s wishes. Call 210-535-0870 for a free consultation. 



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