A prior blog post about disinheriting a child received the most comments of all posts written since this blog’s inception, in June of 2005!
Many people described the pain and emotion of being disinherited. Some added that some of their siblings probably should have been disinherited, as the funds that these beneficiaries received were basically spent on drugs, alcohol, or gambling addictions. They felt that funds were wasted and could have been used for a better purpose, such charitable support or perhaps being left in a trust for that child or other relative.
In any event, there is no right or wrong, but when you write your will, you do have the option to include, exclude, limit, or restrict the funds that are being left to specific individuals and in the specific proportions. Unfortunately, many of the commenters stated that as a result of disinheritance, their family “fell apart,” and relationships were never the same.
Of course, some of the beneficiaries felt that their parent was not in sound mind, possibly delusional, or perhaps under the undue influence of another family member, or was taking pain medication and near death when the document was signed. These individuals certainly had the right to challenge the will or trust in order to claim their inheritance and “right the wrong” as one particular family member had stated in the will.
Many times, with this airing of dirty laundry, what comes out is who is perceived to have loved “mom” best, was the golden child, or felt they were entitled to more than they received. It must be remembered that there is legal standard regarding personal family decisions. It must again be reiterated that no one has a right to inherit except a spouse in most states, and a person in their right mind, who is not unduly influenced, has the absolute right to establish who will receive and who will not upon their death. Often times, a person does not recall what was given during lifetime and forgets that there were gifts made that are intended to be equalized upon death.
While it is unfortunate that many times family relationships are destroyed because of such financial issues, the bottom line is that when a challenge is made to a will, it is basically a lawsuit against the people who got the money by the ones who did not get the money, and that certainly gets personal. Sometimes the legal process doesn’t work as well as it should, but we must remember that it is up to the person writing the will and usually their counsel and trust advisors, who will assist with the decision making process and allow the documents to be signed after proper counseling.
If a person loses their suit, it may be helpful to have them get professional counseling in order to attempt to resolve the issues and allow them to get on with their life.
Hyman G. Darling, Esq.
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