There is a popular saying that familiarity breeds contempt, and that is certainly the case for some families. People take their family relationships for granted and even take advantage of one another. Often, family members assume that others will just forgive their misconduct and selfishness, but everyone has their limits.
Perhaps you are a grandparent with a dozen grandkids, one of whom has turned their back on your entire family. Perhaps you are a parent with three children, and one of them is an addict who has lied to you and stolen from you multiple times. You likely have deeply personal reasons for wanting to disinherit someone.
There are three different strategies that can work to eliminate someone’s right to an inheritance.
Leave them something of very little value
The simplest strategy to disinherit someone involves leaving them an embarrassingly small inheritance. You might leave them a single photo album or just $1. This strategy could allow you to pass something with emotional value onto a family member who might abuse an inheritance while still making your point about their behavior or your relationship very clear.
Openly declare them disinherited in your will
You cannot omit one family member while leaving something for the others by name. If all you do is leave them out, they could potentially challenge your estate plan by raising the claim that their omission was an error on your part. If you explicitly state that you disinherited them and want them to receive nothing, they will have a harder time challenging that.
Move your major assets into a trust
A trust is much harder for people to challenge in probate court than a will, and it also gives you more direct control over what happens to your assets after you die. When combined with a will, a trust will make it easier for you to make unusual arrangements for your legacy.
Some people find that these strategies will work for their purposes. Others, like those hoping to disinherit a spouse, may eventually learn that they cannot achieve their estate planning goal. A spouse has a statutory right of inheritance that a will can not eliminate. Someone disinherited by their spouse could challenge their will and demand their fair share of the estate.
Learning more about Minnesota rules for estate plans can help you draft the most effective documents for your current circumstances.