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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > How Easy Is It To Write A Family Member Out Of Your Will?

How Easy Is It To Write A Family Member Out Of Your Will?


How do you decide who inherits what from your estate?  Should you leave equal shares of your property to each of your children?  Should you take into account how much money you have given each child during your lifetime and then even things out by leaving your children unequal shares of property in your will?  Should you leave more money to family members with greater financial need and less to the ones who would still be financially secure, even without an inheritance from you?  There is no right or wrong answer.  The probate courts have seen it all, from sibling rivalries that play out in probate court to estates dedicated to the care of pampered pets that survived the testator.  You can leave your property to anyone you choose, and you are also free to disinherit them.  A Bronx & Westchester estate planning lawyer can help ensure that you are following the proper legal procedures so that your will is valid.

Disinheriting a Family Member Is as Simple as Writing a Will

Your will is your chance to state your wishes about what will happen to your property after you die, and no one can override your wishes unless they can persuade the probate court that your will is not legally valid.  If you do not write a will, the probate court will distribute your estate according to the laws of intestate succession.  In practice, this means that your closest surviving family members will inherit your estate.  Even if you want to leave your property to your spouse and children, as the court would do if you do not write a will, you should still write one.  Your will can also address other concerns, such as who should be the personal representative of your estate, whether you want your body to be buried or cremated, and who should be in charge of the care of your pets or your minor children.

If you specifically do not want one of your close relatives to inherit from your estate, you should spell this out in your will.  If a previous version of your will left money to this person, but now you are disinheriting him or her, you should also state that the current version of your will renders all previous versions of the will invalid.

Is It Possible to Disinherit Your Spouse?

Your spouse is the only person who can override your decision to disinherit him or her.  Surviving spouses have the right to claim an elective share from the deceased spouse’s estate.  In New York, the spousal share is $50,000 or one third of the value of the estate, whichever is greater.  If you do not want your spouse to claim an elective share, you and your spouse should sign a postnuptial agreement waiving the right to an elective share of each other’s estate.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can help you decide how to allocate assets in your will.  Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.



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