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Disinheriting people in an estate plan

A person in Florida may want to wholly or partially disinherit a family member for a number of reasons. It is best to work with a professional to do this to make it less likely that the action is open to a successful legal challenge.

Disinheriting a person using a trust may be more secure than doing so via a will. A person might challenge a will on the grounds that the person who prepared it was subject to undue influence from someone else or was not competent to make the will for some other reason. A will may be more susceptible to this kind of challenge than a trust because it is often prepared shortly before a person’s death while a trust is usually prepared years before and is already in use. This makes it harder to claim the person was not competent. Furthermore, the provisions in a trust are private while a will is public. In some cases, people may be motivated to challenge a will out of shame.

A “no contest” clause in a will or trust threatens a partially disinherited beneficiary with no inheritance at all if the estate plan is contested and may reduce the likelihood of a challenge. People should also review beneficiary designations and consider how they will protect a spouse from estranged stepchildren.

Trusts can also be useful vehicles for managing distributions to beneficiaries that a person may not want to disinherit but who might not be responsible with assets. Using a trust, a person can specify that an individual only receives distributions after reaching certain milestones or at certain intervals. Another possibility is allowing a trustee to decide when the distributions are made. This may require appointing one or more trustees who are both sensitive to family dynamics and well-versed in the administrative duties involved in managing a trust.

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