Inheritance is the process of passing on property, titles, debts, and other possessions from one person to another after that person’s death. Disinheritance is the act of cutting off an heir from receiving any inheritance from a previous will or estate plan.
There are a few reasons why someone might choose to disinherit an heir. A few common reasons is the heir is believed to be incompetent or irresponsible with money or the heir has fallen out of favor with the deceased for some reason.
Whatever the reason, disinheritance can have obvious consequences for the heirs involved.
If you are considering disinheriting an heir, it is important to consult with an attorney first. There may be legal ramifications for doing so, and it is important to make sure that you are following all of the necessary steps.
Disinheritance can be a difficult decision, but it is sometimes necessary for the well-being of the estate. If you have any questions about disinheritance or inheritance in general, please contact an attorney for more information.
On the other hand, if you’ve been disinherited, your best option is to consult with an attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. Depending on the situation, you might be able to challenge the decision in court and try to get yourself reinstated as a beneficiary.
It is important to note that there are no laws which state that everyone must be included in their parent’s’ or other relative’s will.
There can be several reasons why a parent decides not to leave assets or property behind for children. It could simply be that they never got along with one or more of their kids, and therefore do not want to leave them anything after they die.
In other cases, parents may be estranged from a child for a variety of reasons, such as a child being illegitimate, a child’s drug addiction, criminal activity, or a refusal to have anything to do with the parent. Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that there are no laws which state that parents must leave something behind for their children or other heirs.
Can A Disinheritance Be Challenged?
Will contests are a common way of challenging disinheritance. In most states, the first step is for a court to appoint a person or persons to review whether the testator, the creator of the will, had testamentary capacity at the time of creating their will.
In addition, the review will try to determine if there was undue influence which prevented a testator from excluding someone in their will.
In contested wills cases, any party with an interest under the alleged last will and testament has standing to contest the will. This could also include other interested parties such as creditors or dependents not mentioned in the will.
Typically, in order for someone to successfully contest a will, they must prove that either:
- The decedent did not have testamentary capacity at the time they made their will;
- That there was fraud or duress involved in the making of the will which prevented the testator from making a valid will;
- That the will was not properly executed;
- That the decedent had a previous valid will that was not revoked; or
- The provisions of the will are unfair or unjust.
In order to win a case based on unfairness or injustice it is necessary for the contestant to prove that the decedent had an opportunity to make a more fair and equitable distribution of their assets but failed to do so.
There are many ways a will can be successfully challenged in court. If you believe that you may have grounds to contest a will then you should seek professional legal guidance. An attorney who practices in wills, estates, and trusts may be able to help guide you through the process.
What if a Person is Simply not Mentioned in a Will?
If you are not mentioned in a will, it does not automatically mean that you are not going to inherit anything from the estate. As long as you have a valid legal claim to inheritance, the court will often proceed on the assumption that the deceased intended to give you something.
A common example is when someone executes a will at a time when they had no living children. Most courts agree that an omitted child will receive a share of the will that is generally equal to the amount that an included child would have received if the parent died without a will (intestate).
There are some exceptions a court will consider, but typically if a child is born after the will was executed and the omission was not intentional, with no other provisions made outside the will to provide for the omitted child, then the omitted child usually can be entitled to take something from the will.
What are Some Other Disinheritance Challenges?
Check the Will’s Validity
One of the first steps that you should take is to verify that the will you have been disinherited from is valid. The testator, or person who created the will, must be at least 18 years old and must also know what he or she is doing when they create a will.
Therefore, if the testator was not of age or did not understand what they were doing when they created a will, it may not be valid. You can check with a local court to find out whether a probate hearing needs to take place in order for the validity of the will to be confirmed.
Negotiate with Beneficiaries
If you have been disinherited from a well-drafted and valid will, your next step should involve negotiating with the beneficiaries of the estate. You can try to come up with an agreement as to what is fair and equitable based on all of your relationships with the decedent.
For example, if you were a very close family member but are being disinherited because you have led a reckless lifestyle, you may want to negotiate so that at least part of your inheritance will be given to you.
Take Legal Action
If negotiation does not work or if the will is not valid, it may be necessary for legal action to take place in order for you to get back what rightfully belongs to you. While every case is different, there are some steps that are generally taken during this process.
Witnesses or anyone who helped the testator create the will may be called to testify. This is followed by a review of the decedent’s assets and how they were distributed in the will. If you can prove that you were intentionally disinherited, it is more likely that a court may rule in your favor.
Do I Need an Attorney If I’ve Been Disinherited?
If you’re an adult child who has been disinherited and decide to take legal action against your parents, you’ll likely need the help of an experienced probate attorney.
An attorney can help you gather evidence to support your case and can advise you on what steps to take next. If you’re successful in taking legal action and challenging or contesting the will, you may be able to receive a portion of the estate or some other form of compensation.
It’s important to speak with an attorney beforehand to understand your rights and options. Seek the advice of a qualified attorney if you have questions about disinheritance or any other estate planning matter.