What if you want to exclude your children and give your assets to a charity or a college after you pass away? You also don’t want your children to be able to contest your will.
A person with this intention has a number of options for their estate.
Do You Have To Leave Your Kids Anything?
First, you should understand that unless there is a pre-existing contractual agreement or other obligation to do so, a person typically isn’t required to leave anyone other than their spouse anything in their estate.
A properly drafted will by an experienced estate planning attorney allows a person to name the beneficiaries of their estate. This can include charities. It also includes the amount or specific items and in what way each beneficiary will inherit.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Will From Being Contested?
You really can’t do much to prevent a child from challenging a will. However, your estate planning attorney can take steps to mitigate the risk that a challenge may be successful.
This can include ensuring the testator — the person who establishes a will — has the requisite capacity to sign a will (“being of sound mind”) and that they’re signing it free of any undue influence or duress.
How An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
An experienced estate planning attorney will usually meet with a client several times to discuss the client’s intention of disinheriting a child. The attorney will take notes that may be offered as evidence in the event of a will contest and even conduct the meeting in the presence of another attorney or staff member of the firm who could act as another witness.
A will should include specific language that it is the testator’s intent to disinherit a person, and that this individual should be treated as predeceasing the testator for purposes of the will. This helps ensure that the disinherited individual doesn’t somehow benefit.
Note that not all assets pass through the estate and pursuant to the terms of a will. Assets like retirement accounts, life insurance, annuities, and other financial accounts pass by beneficiary designation.
Real estate usually passes by operation of law, such by joint tenancy with right of survivorship.