The Accidental Disinheritance: How To Avoid Unintentionally Leaving Someone Out of Your Estate

Tip 1: Get regular advice.

The best way to ensure your inheritance wishes are met is to always speak to your estate planning lawyer whenever you make an inheritance decision. Even though you may know what you want, you may not be aware of the best way to ensure that your wishes are met. Your attorney will be able to advise you on what you need to do.

Tip 2: Use specific gifts carefully.

Let’s say that you created a Will soon after the birth of your daughter. In it you decided to give her your home as part her inheritance. Decades later you decide to sell your home and move to Florida. What happens to your daughter’s inheritance now that you no longer have the specific property you left her in your will? In legal circles this is known as ademption. It effectively disinherit your daughter because the property you left is no longer yours. In order to prevent this you will need to either regularly review your estate plan or create a plan that does not base inheritance only on specific named gifts.

Tip 3: Don’t assume your inheritances only come from your Will.

Today, many estate plans avoid passing property through a last Will and testament as much as possible. Basing your inheritance choices solely on the property distributed according to your Will can leave to an unintentional inequality. Much of your property, such as joint property you own with someone else and property that has a right of survivorship, will not be covered under your will. If you fail to take this property into account when choosing who receives an inheritance, this can lead to an imbalance that you may not have wanted.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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