There’s a common belief that if you want to disinherit someone, say an adult child, that you should leave them $1 and nothing more in your will. The thought is that doing so serves to acknowledge the heir (so you can’t be accused of unintentionally leaving the heir out) while making it clear that you do not wish for them to share in your estate after your passing.
The truth is that leaving your heir $1 in your will in order to disinherit them is not necessary. Going this route may even end up costing your estate. For the heir to formally receive his or her dollar, they will need to be notified by the probate court and a check will need to be drawn up and sent to that person by the Executor. The Executor will be unable to close out the estate’s checking account until the check is cleared. As you can imagine, everyone involved in this process of identifying the heir, sending out notifications, and paying the heir is also charging for their time along the way.
If you wish to disinherit an heir for whatever reason (you no longer have a relationship with the person, they do not need the money, etc.), there is an easier way to accomplish your goals. When you create your will with an estate lawyer, simply include a line in your will that states you acknowledge your relationship with the heir, but that you will not be leaving a bequest to this person. You do not have to explain why or air any dirty family laundry. And, it will ultimately spare your estate the costs mentioned above of having to administer a $1 check.
Who you chose to leave your estate to is your business; you can disinherit an heir (who is not a spouse), and you do not owe your attorney or your loved ones any additional explanation. But, it’s important to know that your goals can be accomplished in such a way that does not further inflame hard feelings or open your estate up to disputes or unnecessary legal costs. The key is to be open with your attorney about your family dynamics or concerns so that he or she can help you create a Last Will and Testament that honors your final wishes without causing unintended problems.
If you have additional questions about wills, inheritances, and perhaps disinheriting an heir, our firm is here to help guide you through all of your options. Simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.