It is legal in the State of Texas to disinherit family members in a Last Will & Testament. You can disinherit you children or other relatives by adding disinheritance provisions to your Last Will.
However, it is more difficult to disinherit a spouse in Texas. That is, since Texas is a “community property state” and has generous homestead laws, it’s nearly impossible to completely disinherit a spouse. Every married Texan has community property and separate property. When you die, you can control 100% of your separate property but only control your 50% share of the community property. Also, regardless of any disinheritance provision in your Last Will, your spouse has the right to keep living in the marital homestead for as long as he/she chooses (a “life estate”). Contact a Texas Wills lawyer if you have more questions about this.
Why Do People Want To Disinherit Someone in Texas?
They provided for the loved one elsewhere. Sometimes, if the person making the Last Will (called the “testator” or “testatrix”) has already provided for a family member by using a life insurance policy or by making a family member a beneficiary on a retirement account, the testator doesn’t want that family member to double-dip by also being a beneficiary in the Will.
They don’t think the family member can handle the money. Wealthy testators can worry that beneficiaries can’t handle a large sum of money. They might also reason that their potential beneficiaries should be forced to work and earn money instead of getting rich through the death of a family member.
They think that some family members don’t care about the inheritance. When a testator sits down to write his Last Will, he may reason that some of his children need the money more than his other children. That is, if he has several wealthy children and several children who aren’t as wealthy, he may disinherit the wealthier children because the less wealthy children need the money more.
They’re angry with their family. Testators may want to send a message by disinheriting some family members. A testator may be angry that his family hasn’t visited him or showed him care for years. His family members may have mistreated him or done something he doesn’t agree with. So, as a result, he may write them out of his Last Will to show his feelings toward them.
What are some reasons to NOT completely disinherit someone?
Increased likelihood that the Last Will will be challenged in probate court. Understandably, a disinherited family member is very likely to be angered by the Last Will. As a result, the angered family member may hire an attorney to initiate a Will Contest to challenge the validity of the Last Will. Even if the disgruntled family member doesn’t believe his Will Contest will be successful, at least he’ll be successful in draining the estate of money to fight the Will Contest!
Disinheriting someone takes an emotional toll on family members. The testator whom disinherits a wealthier family member because the person “doesn’t need the money as much,” likely does not understand the emotional impact the disinheritance will have. Disinheriting family members can cause resentment and put tension on family relations. When a person gets disinherited, it often feels like an attack.
How do you disinherit someone in Texas, then?
Hire a Wills attorney to draft your Last Will. If you plan to disinherit someone, it’s even more important that your Will is executed properly. As I mentioned, the likelihood of a Will Contest goes up significantly if there’s a disinheritance. The Will needs to be rock-solid to withstand the potential court challenges. The Wills attorney will also include special provisions (called “in terrorem clauses”) to help prevent Will Contests.
Give your reasons for the disinheritance. If you’re only writing someone out of your Last Will because you made that person a life insurance beneficiary instead, then say so. If you want to write someone out of a Will because they’ve treated you wrongly, then say so. By doing this, the probate court judge will know that the disinheritance wasn’t a mistake. A Will Contest is less likely to succeed if you give the reasons for disinheriting.
Consider using a Trust. If you give inheritance with a Living Trust or other trust document, you’ll have more flexibility in controlling how your money will be spent. That is, with a trust, you’ll name a trustee who controls where the trust’s money goes.
This way, you can give money to someone but give your trustee instructions to only spend the trust’s money on things like health, education, maintenance, and support of the beneficiary. You won’t have to worry about beneficiaries who are spendthrifts, because any disbursements of the trust assets will have to be approved by the trustee. Plus, a trust is less likely to be challenged in probate court.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on how to disinherit in Texas, Dallas Will Contests, preventing Will Contests, or disinheriting family in Texas, contact Richardson, Texas lawyer Isaac Shutt at email@example.com.
Shutt Law Firm’s office is conveniently located just north of Dallas, TX, near the intersection of highway 75 and Campbell Road in Richardson, TX.
You can also call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this article or to discuss a different legal matter. For existing clients, quick phone-calls and brief e-mails are always free at Shutt Law Firm PLLC. Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you need probate, estate administration, Will Contests, Challenge a Will in Court, or a Wills Lawyer in Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Addison, TX or surrounding North Texas area.