Many people think that the act of writing someone out of their will is a sort of cruel betrayal, and perhaps a sign of a disharmonious family. But that's not always the case. People in Georgia disinherit their relatives for a variety of reasons. Some may feel as though one child needs more financial help than another, and so they choose to channel their assets to where they are most needed. Others may have had no relationship with one of their family members, and so wish to ensure that their assets are not given to a child or sibling that they never knew.
Still, writing a person out of a will is something that should be done carefully, and with a great deal of sensitivity to everyone's feelings. Even if a relationship is particularly acrimonious, it's best to keep the language in a will diplomatic and non-confrontational. It's also important to remember that not everyone can be disinherited; the law protects certain parties from being removed from consideration in estate planning.
Particularly, spouses cannot be disinherited. Spouses have a legal right to maintain control of the marital property after the death of their partner; no will can prevent this. Similarly, minor children have legal rights under estate planning law. Just as a child cannot be denied child support after a divorce, they cannot be denied proper financial support from a parent who predeceases them.
Adult children can be disinherited, but again, this must be done with sensitivity. Children have a right to dispute the contents of a will, an action that can be both expensive and time-consuming. Keeping the language clear and cordial will decrease the likelihood of a disputed will.
Estate planning can be a complicated process, with many opportunities for costly mistakes. It is important, therefore, that those who wish to plan for the future speak to an experienced attorney who can explain the situation more thoroughly.
Source: CNBC, "How to Disinherit Loved Ones-And Which You Can't," Feb. 1, 2013