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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

In an ideal world everyone would get along swimmingly and there would be no contentions, or fights, or disagreements. In an ideal world our relationships with others would be excellent, and there would be no individual problems such as disabilities or addictions. The problem is we don’t live in an ideal world. Rather, we live in the real world which means that there are issues and problems with relationships and individuals as well. Because of these things, it is often necessary for a parent or other family member to write someone out of there will.

For over 20 years I have assisted individuals in the creation of their own customized estate planning documents including their last will and testament. There have been many instances where I have worked with my clients to write someone out of their will. Not all circumstances are the same. There have been a number of reasons that I have assisted client in accomplishing this. Sometimes my clients simply do it out of spite. However, the purpose of this article is to describe some of the legitimate reasons a person may want to write someone out of their will.

Based on Your Relationship With Them

The first reason that someone may want to write another person out of their will is because of their relationship with them. Relationships evolve over time. Often, relationships are either strengthened or they are destroyed because of experiences that happen or interactions that occur between individuals. Additionally, sometimes relationships simply erode away because they aren’t nurtured or there is a long period of time where the individuals don’t interact with each other. Regardless of the reason, the law in Idaho almost always allows a person to write another individual out of their will.

The only limitation is that if you have a surviving spouse, you typically cannot write them out of the will. This is true in Idaho because Idaho is a community property State. This simply means that it is most likely that the property you have in your estate is jointly owned between you and your spouse. As a result of that, you cannot divest your spouse of community property through your last will and testament. Other than that, you can write almost anyone else out of your will that you would like even if it is because of your relationship with them.

They Have a Disability or an Addiction

Another reason I have helped an individual write someone out of their will is when the person they are disinheriting has a disability or addiction they are dealing with. When a person has a disability, they are most likely receiving benefits from several governmental agencies. If that person were to receive a portion of your estate including money, property, or other valuable assets, they would likely lose the benefits they are receiving. It’s for this reason, that we often have parents write disabled children out of their will. Then, we often help these same parents create a Supplemental Needs Trust or a special needs trust that can be used as a way of helping their children without triggering the loss of the benefits they are currently receiving.

Disinheriting a child because of an addiction is also legitimate thing to do. The reason for this is that most parents recognize that if their addicted child receives money, property, or other valuable assets, they will likely use these things to continue to feed or foster their addiction. Most parents don’t want to assist their children with their addictions. Rather, most parents would prefer to disinherit a child rather than to give them the means to continue to nurture their addiction after the parents pass away. Again, in these circumstance, the parents almost often also create some sort of a trust that can provide for those children in a way that will not continue to nurture their addictions.

They Don’t Need Your Money or Property

An additional reason that I’ve seen parents write children out of their will is because the children do not need their money, property, or other assets. In other words, the children are wealthy and are doing fine and don’t need a portion of their parents estates. In this instance, sometimes parents will favor children who are not doing as well financially.

I always caution parents against doing this sort of thing simply because of the message that it sends to their children. Rather than completely disinheriting a child simply because they are wealthy and they may not need money or other property, I encourage these parents to provide meaningful gifts to these same children. In doing so the parents are still able to provide the majority of their money, property, and other assets to the children they believe need it most without completely disinheriting the wealthy child.

As you can see, in Idaho it is possible to disinherit someone through your written will. There are often many good reasons why this should be done. We have assisted numerous clients in writing someone out of their will and we are confident that we can help you too.


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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