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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > Reconciling With an Estranged Family Member Is a Reason to Update Your Estate Plan

Reconciling With an Estranged Family Member Is a Reason to Update Your Estate Plan


Money can poison relationships between relatives as much as it can poison relationships between friends.  In some ways, the less you tell your family about the contents of your will, the better.  Before you designate a family member as personal representative of your estate, make sure that he or she is willing to take on the task, but it is no one’s business but yours how much money you have and who will inherit it.  Disinheriting relatives in a fit of anger without their knowledge is an unwise move, but constantly dangling the threat of losing their inheritance over their heads is even worse.  It is ultimately your decision, though, to write as many drafts of your will as you choose, every time your feelings change about which of your relatives deserve to inherit how much, but remember that, if you formalize your will by signing it in the presence of witnesses, it becomes official, and the only way to change it is to write and formalize another version of your will.  The worst is if you reconcile with a relative that you angrily disinherited, but you never get around to updating your will.  The best way to find out if your will or any other estate planning documents need an update is to contact a Bronx estate planning lawyer.

At Least Have the Decency to Let Your Disinherited Relatives Know That They Are Still Disinherited

Becoming estranged from a family member usually doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does reconciliation.  If you have a troubled history with a family member, you may feel insecure about your relationship with him or her for years, even though you are regularly in contact with one another.  No matter your relationship with your family, most people are not in a hurry to revisit their estate plans; estate planning procrastination is common, even for the elderly and infirm.  You would be surprised how many people die without updating a will that they wrote during a marriage that ended in divorce years earlier; this does not mean that the ex-spouse inherits everything that he or she would have inherited if the couple had still been married when the decedent died, but it does mean that there is more room for ambiguity during probate.

Being on better terms with a family member after a period of estrangement does not rank highly on the list of events that motivate people to update their estate plans, but perhaps it should.  All of your work in rebuilding your relationship with a previously estranged family member will go to waste if, after remaining on good terms for the rest of your life, you die while the family member is still disinherited.  From the family member’s perspective, it will come across that you are punctuating your relationship with him or her with rejection.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can help you rewrite your will to reflect recent changes to your family situation.  Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.



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