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Park Ridge IL Medicaid and Estate Planning Legal Blog

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How to Disinherit a Relative

Q: How can I leave a relative out of my estate plan?

It's common when people seek advice from a skilled estate planning attorney, that they may have close relatives in their life that they don't want to inherit anything. The late pop icon, Michael Jackson, was apparently one of those people.

Fortunately, in almost all cases, you can completely disinherit almost anyone, whether the person is part of your life or estranged --although state rules differ on the ability and extent to which you may disinherit your current spouse. Depending on your situation, there are particular ways to leave someone out of your will that can eliminate or reduce the likelihood of a will contest once the will is offered for probate upon the maker’s death.

The recent death of Joe Jackson, notorious father of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and several of his siblings from the famous family musical group, The Jackson 5, has brought the late superstar’s estate plan back into the spotlight momentarily. But the review serves as a good lesson in how to effectively disinherit a close relative.

Interviews given by the late Michael Jackson or his late father described Michael’s childhood and his father’s strict disciplinary ways designed to propel his children to stardom in the music business at the apparent expense of any semblance of a typical childhood. Disciplinary tactics allegedly used may have crossed the line and reportedly left Michael insecure about his physical appearance and nervous to the point of being physically ill at times when in his father’s presence—problems that reportedly followed him into adulthood.

In response, Michael reportedly did not provide for his father in his will or family trust. Instead, he reportedly provided for his three children and his mother in a living trust and named his mother the guardian of his children in his will, but his father was “effectively written out of his fortune”. Trust property passes quickly, directly, and privately to the beneficiaries upon the maker’s death. While he did apparently attempt to contest his son’s will, the contest “ended in failure” when the judge ruled he would “take none of this estate...this was a decision his son made”.

Whether you want to disinherit a relative or not, you don't have to be a celebrity to use trusts in your estate planning. In fact, they are a popular estate planning tool to help avoid the probate process and its extensive delays and costs. This enables a smooth and fast transfer of assets to intended beneficiaries upon death and also preserves privacy because trust terms are private whereas a will offered for probate in court is a matter of public record.

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan or would like to modify an existing estate plan, the Law Office of Thomas J. Hansen can help you. Contact us today for a free estate planning consultation.

From our office in Park Ridge, we represent clients throughout Illinois in estate planning, tax preparation, and real estate transactions.


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