The family tree can be a useful tool as you consider who will and will not be included in your last will and testament. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a spouse generally cannot be disinherited. Any other lineal descendant, however, can be disinherited at your discretion. Deliberately cutting a child or grandchild out of your last will and testament is an emotional and potentially divisive action. This is not a decision to be made lightly or in a reactionary state of mind. However, we recognize that this is your decision to make.
Disinheriting an Heir in Virginia
Here are a few things to think about before you draft and sign a last will and testament that disinherits a potential heir:
- State of Mind. Ask yourself if this action is a reasonable reaction to the circumstances at hand. If disinheritance is a motivational factor in this relationship, is the potential/likely turmoil worth it?
- Free Will. Are you concerned that your heir will squander your savings? You always have the option to establish a trust to control the inheritance. For example, a special trust may be set up for someone with a drug or gambling problem.
- If after great consideration, you have decided to disinherit a child, make your intentions undeniably clear in your will or trust. This will certainly require the assistance of a skilled Virginia attorney. Making your wishes known in print will help to diffuse family arguments and possibly deter a will contest.
- In addition to expressing your wishes in your will, make sure you have updated the beneficiary information provided to other fiduciaries such as insurance companies, stock brokers, etc.
Regardless of your decision about disinheritance, make sure you execute the will properly with an experienced Virginia attorney who will protect your interests and respect your wishes.
Disinherited Heirs in Virginia
As an heir who has been disinherited, you may have options. If you find out before the testator passes, try talking to your relative. Sometimes rash decisions are made without having all the information, and a simple conversation can resolve issues. However, in the case that the testator is deceased, some research may be in order. Here are a few questions to consider in this instance:
- Was the testator coerced in some way? There are instances in which someone exerts control and pushes the testator to sign.
- Was the will properly executed? There may be errors in the way that the will was drafted or signed. A skilled attorney will be able to address this issue.
- Could you be a beneficiary in another way? Does an outdated life insurance policy still name you as a beneficiary?
Again, it’s important to consult an experienced Virginia estate litigation attorney who will protect your best interests from the beginning of the process because litigation is often the only resolution to disputes regarding estates.
Estate Litigation | Richmond, Virginia Attorney | Estate Planning Attorney