How to Disinherit Someone in a Will: Discover 4 Compelling Reasons Why

Introduction

Writing a will is a profound act – a way to shape the legacy you leave behind. But what happens when you intentionally exclude someone from your will? Is it a cold-hearted decision, or does it carry deeper meaning? This article delves into the intricate reasons why individuals deliberately omit certain beneficiaries from their estate plans.

1. Estrangement: When Ties Unravel 

Estrangement, whether caused by disagreements, misunderstandings, or hurtful events, can result in deliberate exclusions. One common reason is the sibling rift; after the passing of parents, old wounds, sibling rivalries, and financial disputes can resurface, tearing them apart. This powerful force can shape final wishes, leading to the deliberate exclusion of family members, such as siblings, even when they are the only family members left to benefit from your will.

2. Previous Gifts and Financial Assistance

Sometimes, generosity precedes the will. If you’ve already provided substantial gifts or financial aid during your lifetime, you might adjust your estate plan accordingly. For example, a family member who has received a significant financial gift during your lifetime might be excluded in favour of someone more in need or a legacy left to a local charity. Documenting these gifts can help clarify your intentions and prevent future disputes.

3. Changing Relationships

Life is fluid, and relationships evolve. A close friend may become a stranger, or a distant relative may become a confidant. Changes in marital status, such as divorce, often prompt people to reconsider their estate distribution, especially if the marriage ended on a bad note. Regularly updating your will to reflect these changing relationships ensures your estate plan remains current and reflective of your true intentions.

4. Protecting Vulnerable Beneficiaries

Consider the well-being of vulnerable family members. If someone has special needs, health issues, or addiction struggles, your estate plan may reflect protective measures. For instance, Sarah’s brother David had a disability. She set up a trust fund to ensure his care after her passing, excluding him from direct inheritance to safeguard his government benefits. Alternatively, if a family member misuses drugs, excluding them might be a practical decision to ensure the inheritance isn’t misused. Appointing a trustee or legal guardian to manage the inheritance for vulnerable beneficiaries can ensure that your estate is used in their best interests.

The Risk of Court Challenges: Excluding Beneficiaries

When you intentionally exclude an eligible person from your will, you risk inadvertently opening the door to legal disputes. After the testator’s death, any eligible person may apply to the court for a family provisions order if they believe the will does not provide for them adequately.

The Ilott v Mitson case reaffirms the principle of testamentary freedom while recognising that adult children may still have a claim against their parent’s estate under certain circumstances, even after a lengthy estrangement. Heather Ilott had been estranged from her mother, Melita Jackson, for 26 years. Despite the estrangement, Heather claimed against her late mother’s estate. Melita Jackson had disinherited Heather in favour of charities. The Court of Appeal initially awarded Heather an increased sum of £143,000 for reasonable financial provision to enable her to buy a house. The Supreme Court emphasised that awards to adult children should be limited to maintenance, not need.

For further information on contesting a will, please read our blog on 10 Tips to Keep in Mind when contesting a Will.

Conclusion

Excluding someone from your will is a multifaceted decision. It’s not merely about assets; it’s about emotions, history, and the intricate threads of human connection. Consulting with a legal professional ensures your wishes are legally binding. Whether you’re leaving a grand estate or a modest one, your will reflects not just wealth but your heart. 

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How We Can Help

At Aristone Solicitors, we provide expert guidance and support for all your estate planning needs, including:

  • Personalised Legal Advice: Tailored advice to ensure your will reflects your specific wishes and circumstances.
  • Comprehensive Estate Planning: Services include drafting wills, setting up trusts, and creating powers of attorney.
  • Protecting Vulnerable Beneficiaries: Establishing trust funds and appointing trustees to manage inheritances responsibly.
  • Documenting Your Intentions: Clearly documenting your intentions to minimize the risk of legal challenges.
  • Contesting a Will: Guidance and support for contesting a will if you believe you have been unfairly excluded.
  • Regular Updates and Reviews: Ensuring your estate plan remains current with regular reviews and updates.
  • Expert Guidance on Legal Disputes: Representation and advice in case of legal disputes or family provision claims.
  • Confidential and Compassionate Support: Providing a supportive environment to discuss your estate planning needs.

Get in touch with aristone solicitors today

 

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