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Can you disinherit someone in California?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Not everyone wants to leave their assets to their family when they die. Sometimes it is because they feel family members do not need it. Other times because they have fallen out with one or more of them.

Certain people, such as spouses and children, expect to inherit when you die. So what can you do if you do not want them to?

Can you explain your choice to them?

Let’s say you have three kids. One is incredibly successful, while the other two struggle to make ends meet. If you would rather leave your assets to the two strugglers, consider discussing your decision with the well-off one rather than leaving them to find out once you die. They may still find it hard to accept, but they are more likely to respect your choice if you explain why.

You need to put it in writing

Regardless of whether you inform someone, you need to put it in writing. Under California law, if you simply allocate assets to two kids and not the third, a court will consider the possibility that you forget for some reason. 

So you need to spell it out using a disinheritance clause to say that you consciously choose not to leave this person anything.

What about your spouse?

You have two options if you prefer to omit your spouse from your will: You have a pre-marital agreement or your spouse agrees to the terms you want in a post-marital agreement. Generally speaking, you cannot otherwise disinherit your spouse.

In all cases, legal help will be crucial to ensure you document everything correctly when making your estate plans.