How Can You Prevent Your Estate From Being Distributed To People You Dislike?
If you're just beginning the estate planning process, you may be a bit overwhelmed at all the options available. This can be true even for those who have harmonious family relationships -- for those who desire to disinherit a certain relative or group of relatives, the pressure of drafting a will that accomplishes these aims (and won't be contested) can be intense. While disinheriting is a relatively simple process in most states, it can become complex if a close relative of the person you seek to disinherit is a beneficiary in your will and passes away before you do. How can you protect yourself against this situation? Read on to learn more about the laws governing successive beneficiaries.
How can someone you disinherit still wind up receiving a portion of your estate?
Many simple wills follow the same formulas most states use for intestate (without a will) distribution of assets. This usually means that funds go first to minor children, then adult children, then parents or siblings if the deceased does not have children. If someone in this line of succession passes away before the original testator, his or her share is usually equally distributed among his or her own children, parents, or siblings.
Therefore, if the person you wish to disinherit is closely related to someone who does inherit through your will, you'll need to take measures to prevent this disinherited person from inheriting their family member's portion of your estate after your death. Similar measures may need to be taken to limit the ability of family members' spouses you don't completely trust to inherit your assets.
How can you prevent someone from inheriting (directly or indirectly) through your will?
One of the simplest ways to direct your assets after you die is to create a trust. Although the funds in a trust can be used to benefit the recipient in nearly any way possible, these trusts enjoy some legal protections you and the recipient may find handy. A trust is created by a grantor and managed by a trustee, and benefits flow to the recipient. Because the recipient doesn't actually own or control the trust, the original grantor can direct it to exclude certain family members upon the recipient's death. This lack of ownership of the trust can also protect the beneficiary from garnishment or seizure of trust funds if sued in civil court. If you're concerned about disinheriting a family member while still benefiting the person from whom this family member would inherit, you'll want to speak to an estate planning attorney in your area to talk about setting up a trust.