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Can you truly “cut someone out of your will”?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Estate Planning

No matter how much you try to love and support a family member, they can continue to disappoint you when they refuse to fix their issues. Sometimes, ending the relationship with them is the only way. Cutting out or disinheriting someone from a will involves more than just not including them; there are processes and state laws to consider.

A will allows you to identify who will inherit your assets when you pass, including the decision to leave someone with nothing. However, it is crucial to note that state laws, such as those in Arkansas, may prohibit you from completely disinheriting certain family members.

People you cannot disinherit

State law protects surviving spouses and minor children from complete disinheritance.

It might be possible to exclude your spouse from your will, but it is difficult to do so. The Arkansas Code provides surviving spouses certain rights to their spouse’s property. If the marriage lasted over a year, the surviving spouse has the right to challenge or “take against the will.”

Simply put, your surviving spouse may reject what you wrote in the will. They can still legally claim a portion of the properties you owned during the marriage, even if their name does not appear on your will.

Meanwhile, the law obligates parents to provide minor children with financial support since they cannot work and survive independently. While it may be doable to stop your minor children from inheriting the entire estate, the law still entitles them to receive a portion.

Who can you disinherit?

You do not have to leave your adult children, parents, relatives and friends with anything. People are known to disinherit family members because of rocky relationships or financial irresponsibility.

After carefully considering your family dynamics and reviewing applicable state laws, you may add a disinheritance clause to exclude someone from your will. Adding the reasons for your decision can help make your intentions clear and prevent disputes from happening.

Decisions on inheritance can impact family relationships for many years. Consider talking to a lawyer before leaving someone out of your will. They can help you see the pros and cons of disinheriting a loved one and guide you towards the process.