Can you choose to disinherit certain family members?

Some people have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the property of their family members. Children and grandchildren frequently develop expectations based on what they think certain property is worth without considering someone’s obligations for their desire to leave resources for a charitable cause. Some people think that they have the legal right to inherit property from a family member’s estate.

Despite the urban legends about the right to an inheritance that persist, Colorado state law does not guarantee any inheritance rights to someone’s progeny. Only their surviving spouse has a statutory right to a specific portion of their estate. If your relationship with a family member is not in a good place or if you have other wishes, it is possible to disinherit them.

How do you disinherit a family member?

If you want to eliminate a child or grandchild from your estate plan, the simplest solution would seem to be simply eliminating their name from your list of beneficiaries. However, this approach often backfires. The omitted child or grandchild could challenge the will by raising a claim that their omission from the documents was an accident or a mistake.

If you intend to disinherit someone, you typically need to make mention of that in your documents. People often leave a very small item or a single dollar to a family member as a means of including them in the estate plan without leaving anything of value to them. Some testators also create trusts for the purpose of maintaining more careful control over the distribution of their property and ensuring certain family members will not misuse estate resources.

Probate surprises often lead to challenges

While it may give you a healthy dose of schadenfreude to think of the younger family members that snubbed you reacting in dismay after learning that they won’t receive anything from your estate, those last-minute surprises frequently lead to probate litigation. Being honest and transparent about your intentions can minimize the possibility of family members going to probate court to challenge the legacy you leaving behind.

Understanding what you can and cannot do with your property after your death can help you create a more effective estate plan.

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