How to Exclude People When Making a Will

By Beverly Bird

Most states will not allow you to exclude your spouse from your will. According to the American Bar Association, this stems from the days when wives had no source of financial support except their husbands, and were left destitute without an inheritance. Some states, such as Louisiana and Florida, will not even allow you to disinherit your child. When you exclude anyone who would normally be an heir under your state’s law, it is considered “negative intent.” Consult an attorney to make sure you include the proper wording in your will to prevent your excluded heir from contesting it.

Most states will not allow you to exclude your spouse from your will. According to the American Bar Association, this stems from the days when wives had no source of financial support except their husbands, and were left destitute without an inheritance. Some states, such as Louisiana and Florida, will not even allow you to disinherit your child. When you exclude anyone who would normally be an heir under your state’s law, it is considered “negative intent.” Consult an attorney to make sure you include the proper wording in your will to prevent your excluded heir from contesting it.

Step 1

Include provisions for every possible asset in your will. If you omit anything, your disinherited heir can claim that you died partially intestate, or with an incomplete will, and can make a claim that the property omitted should pass according to your state’s laws of succession. If she is in line to receive a portion of your estate as an heir, she might then get a piece of anything you omitted even if it was your intention to leave her nothing.

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Step 2

State specifically that you are leaving nothing to the person you want to exclude. Don’t just omit mentioning them, warns the American Bar Association. If it is your intention to exclude your child and your state allows that, it may be best to leave them a token amount.

Step 3

Add an “in terrorum,” or no-contest, clause indicating that if the person you excluded contests your will and loses that contest, then he receives nothing. This is usually only effective, however, if you are not excluding someone completely. It may be best to leave him just enough to make him think twice about risking its loss if he loses the contest.

Step 4

Write a separate letter or statement giving your reasons for excluding the person you want to omit, and append it to your will. You can also back up your will with a videotape or digital recording explaining your reasons, but make sure you appear sharp and concise when you make it, and have witnesses present.

Step 5

Safeguard against any claims that you are medically or mentally incompetent at the time you’re making your will by having a qualified professional present when you sign it, such as your doctor. You can also have your doctor make a notarized statement that you are competent, and attach that to your will.

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How to Draft a Will With a No-Contest Clause

References

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FAQs on a Last Will & Testament

A will is a document that allows you to decide who gets your property when you pass away, who is going to make sure that your beneficiaries get your property and who is going to raise your minor children in your absence, if you have any. If you die without a will, you allow the state where you resided to determine who gets everything you’ve worked for.

Preparation of Wills

Preparing a will is one way to ensure that your property will go to the people you choose to have it after your death. If you have no minor children and few assets, you may be able to prepare your will yourself. However, it may sometimes be best to consult an attorney before attempting to prepare your will in order to fully understand the laws that govern wills in your state. An attorney can also prepare your will for you.

Can an Heir Be Deleted From a Property Inheritance?

When someone leaves a will, he can bequeath his property to anyone he chooses. With the exception of his spouse in some jurisdictions, he can also omit or disinherit anyone he likes. Heirs have far more rights when a loved one dies intestate, or without a will. In this case, a statutory code takes over, determining who inherits his property. Depending on how closely related an heir is to the deceased, it might be impossible to “delete” him.

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