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How to Disinherit Someone

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

At the Racine law office our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys work to help each individual client with their specific estate planning needs. We’ve been helping our clients for more than 70 years in making sure that their specific wishes and intentions are carried out not only while they’re alive but also after they have passed away. Sometimes, our clients come to us with the specific instruction of disinheriting a person who is part of their family. When this happens we work with our client to make sure that they understand what it means to disinherit a person and that we are accomplishing what our client truly wants to do.

Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys are experienced and have earned the highest rankings possible on Martindale-Hubbell, Justia, and AVVO, which are all legal reporting services that provide details on the skills and abilities of attorneys. We have the knowledge and experience necessary to make sure that our clients’ instructions and intentions are accomplished.

To be sure, we don’t encourage any of our clients to disinherit anyone from their estate planning. We find that one of our most important goals is that we work to help our clients retain and maintain the good relationships they have with family members rather than destroying them. However, many times there are good reasons to disinherit a person from an estate. The purpose of this article is not to discuss what those good reasons are.  Rather, the purpose of this article is to explain the ways that disinheriting a person can be accomplished.

Use a Trust and not a Will

One of the best ways that you can effectively disinherit a person from your estate is by using a trust rather than a last will and testament. The reason for this is because a trust is an estate planning mechanism or option that is used where you transfer your money, property, or other assets, away from yourself while you are alive. These items are put into the trust which means that you no longer individually own them. Because of this, when you pass away, your death will have no impact on the ownership of those items of property that are owned by the trust.

A trust can be specifically set up so that it continues to exist and function even after a person’s death. In fact, in Idaho, a trust can be drawn out over many generations depending on its purpose and how it is structured. Because of this, a trust can be used to skip a generation of individuals, or to exclude either a group or a specific individual.

If You Use a Will Make Sure You can Disinherit the Person

The next tip that we can provide to you if you truly are interested in disinheriting an individual is to make sure that you can disinherit the person if you are relying on a last will and testament. What we mean by this is that in Idaho there are specific statutes that provide for a spouse or children who are omitted from or are not named in a will. Additionally, a spouse who has an ownership interest in community property can only transfer their interest in that property and not the interest of their surviving spouse.

As a result of these things, if you are relying on a last will and testament then you should make sure that it is done correctly. When it is not done correctly, it often leads to legal fight within the court system in order for a spouse or a child to prove that they are still entitled to receive a portion of the decedent’s estate. If your goal is truly to disinherit an individual the last thing you want is for that individual to cause a long and expensive legal battle to occur.

Use Clear Language

One of the ways that you can avoid this type of legal fight is to use clear language in your last will and testament. In other words, it’s not enough to simply leave a person’s name out of your last will and testament. Rather, you have to use specific language that says the name of the individual and the fact that you are leaving nothing to them.

We sometimes have clients who ask if they can leaves $1 to an individual rather than using language that completely disinherits them. The short answer to this is yes this can be done. However, consider how expensive it could be to deliver that $1 to an individual who cannot be located for some reason. The personal representative you choose is required by law to make sure that each and every distribution from your estate is completed. As a result, if in your attempt to disinherit someone you leave them $1, it could cost thousands of dollars for your personal representative to deliver that $1 to the individual you are attempting to disinherit. We find that it is much more practical to simply use language in your last will and testament that effectively disinherits an individual and doesn’t leave them anything.

Get Help From an Attorney

The final, and perhaps the best advice that we can give to an individual who truly wants to disinherit someone is to get help from a qualified estate planning attorney. Doing this may cost a little bit of money up front, but it ensures that you have done it correctly which could save you and/or your estate thousands of dollars later. A qualified estate planning attorney will understand the current laws that exist in Idaho when it comes to disinheriting an individual. This gives this attorney the ability to use the language that would effectively disinherit the individual you want disinherited. Additionally, having it done correctly discourages the individual who is disinherited from bringing a legal battle to challenge the disinheritance.

We have helped numerous clients who have made the decision to disinherit someone from their estate plan. We have experience in completing this goal for many of our clients and we are confident that if you desire to disinherit someone we can help you too.

Enlist an Idaho Business Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, 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. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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