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Disinheriting a Family Member

Disinheriting a family member is a big decision that our Idaho Estate Planning Attorneys sometimes help our clients accomplish. Disinheritance is where a person chooses to intentionally keep a specific member or members of their family from receiving any assets or property from their estate when they pass away. Our Estate Planning Lawyers in Idaho understand that the law doesn’t do this automatically. Rather, the presumption under many different Estate Planning laws in Idaho is that a person wants their assets and property to be distributed to their immediate family members such as their spouse and children. The reality though is that sometimes skipping a family member is the right thing to do. Our Idaho Estate Planning Attorneys know that the law does allow a person to disinherit a family member when certain language is used in their Last Will and Testament.

Our Idaho Estate Planning Lawyers use their decades of experience and knowledge to customize each client’s estate planning. We have the experience and ability to discuss and advise our clients about their specific Estate Plan, especially when it comes to leaving out a family member. Our partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson, and our attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley have received the highest ratings from Martindale and Hubbell, AVVO and Justia. Together our team of award winning Estate Planning Attorneys in Idaho can help you.

Choosing to skipping a person from receiving a portion of your estate is a decision that requires deliberation and thought. It is important to know that there are times when it is the right thing to do. When it comes to doing this there are 3 specific things you should know.

Can I Disinherit a Child?

There are some valid and justified reasons why a parent may want to avoid giving a child a portion of their estate. Our Idaho Estate Planning Lawyers find that some parents have a wayward child struggling with harmful addictions such as alcohol, drugs or gambling. These parents recognize that if they leave even a modest portion of their estate to a child with these struggles, it could cause serious harm to the child.

Additionally, we’ve found that some parents have a child with a disability or a handicap. Often these children are receiving financial assistance such as benefits from local, state and federal governments to help them. If that child were to receive a direct inheritance it would cause these types of benefits to be cut off. As a result, deliberately choosing to not give a child with special needs a portion of your estate may be the best way to provide for that child, in a way that allows them to continue to receive helpful benefits in the future.

In Idaho it is both legal and possible for a child to be completely disinherited by a parent. In order to validly accomplish this, the parent’s Last Will and Testament must state specifically that the child is disinherited and receives nothing. Simply choosing to not name or mention a child in a Last Will and Testament is not enough. Under current Idaho law, when a parent does not name or mention a child in their Estate Plan a child will be presumed to have simply been forgotten and will still receive some distribution of money and/or property when a parent passes away.

Can I Disinherit a Spouse?

Deliberately leaving a spouse out of an estate plan is different from doing the same to a child. It is presumed by Idaho law that most people want to pass property to their spouse when they die. Additionally, Idaho is a community property state, which provides a presumption that one-half of all property the couple obtains during their marriage is owned by each spouse. For this reason, it is typically not possible to completely disinherit a spouse. However, there are some exceptions. When a spouse agrees in a legal agreement such as a prenuptial agreement or a property separation agreement then giving property from an estate to a spouse is possible. Additionally, when a person can show that the property they own is not community property but is separate property then avoiding a distribution to a spouse is possible as to that separate property.

Typically, when there is no written agreement from a spouse and a Last Will and Testament of a decedent leaves nothing to a surviving spouse, Idaho’s laws will usually allow the spouse to still inherit a portion of certain property. For these reasons, consulting an attorney about these options is vital. We are confident that our Idaho Estate Planning Lawyers can help you.

Can a Disinherited Person Challenge My Will?

Finally, our Idaho Estate Planning clients often ask whether a disinherited person can challenge the Last Will and Testament that left them out. The short answer is yes. Often such a person will challenge a Last Will and Testament that acts to exclude them from distributions. This is especially true when it is a surprise, or if there is a perception that a parent’s or spouses’ Last Will and Testament was coerced or that the parent or spouse was wrongfully influenced. It is possible that cutting a person out of an inheritance may cost the estate money and time to defend against the claim, regardless of whether the claim wins or loses. For this reason, our Estate Planning Attorneys in Idaho work closely with our clients and help them consider every ramification the decision to avoid leaving a distribution to a family member may cause.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

If you have questions about disinheriting a family member from your estate, our Idaho Estate Planning attorneys can help you. We are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email us directly at We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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