Everything You (Never) Wanted To Know About Disinheritance

Minnesota probate law - disinheritanceNo one wants to think about ever having to disinherit a loved one, after all, doing so can create serious friction in the family and lead to irreparably hurt feelings.

However, there are some cases where disinheritance may be in order, in which case, it helps to be armed with information. To find out more about how it works in Minnesota, keep reading.

Minnesota Probate Law | Can you disinherit a spouse?

Though we’d hope it never gets to the point that you want to, it is possible you might be interested in disinheriting a spouse. Is such a thing possible in Minnesota? Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), spouses can never be disinherited in Minnesota. This is because your spouse has a legal right to his or her spousal share of your estate. This means even if you specifically leave assets to others and change your beneficiary designations, your spouse will still be able to claim a certain share of the value of the estate.

The rule in Minnesota says that a spouse has the right to a percentage of the augmented estate, meaning the value of your assets plus the value of his or her stuff. The percentage is based on a sliding scale and starts at three percent of the augmented estate for those married for only a year. At year 15 the percentage caps out at 50 percent of the augmented estate.

This percentage is guaranteed regardless of what is written in your will and, assuming the spouse has little of his or her own, will guarantee he or she walks away with half of your estate. If that’s a problem, you might want to consider meeting with a Minnesota family law attorney rather than an estate planning lawyer.

Minnesota Probate Law | What about children?

Though it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to disinherit a child, the reality is that there are sometimes legitimate reasons for such a decision. One example is if there is simply no relationship between the parent and child and including the child in the will would run contrary to the person’s wishes.

A second, and much less depressing situation, is if one child is especially well off financially and does not need the same level of support as other children. By excluding the wealthy child from your inheritance you can leave more to the children who may really need it.

Unlike spouses, children can be disinherited. Doing so may obviously lead to hostility, especially if the disinheritance comes as a surprise. To ease the pain, it may be best to sit down with the family and explain your rationale for the decision early on, giving everyone time to process and, eventually, accept your choice.

How do you go about disinheriting someone?

If you’re looking to disinherit someone, likely a child, there are several ways to go about it. One way is to simply exclude their name from your will and all other documents regarding your estate. Don’t name them as beneficiaries on your life insurance or retirement accounts. Though this approach can work, it can also lead to confusion and unnecessary fighting. If someone is merely left out of a will, it’s possible that they would think it was the result of a simple oversight and could thus lead to a lengthy fight among the heirs.

Rather than allow for so much potential confusion, the better way to go about disinheriting someone is to specifically name him or her in your will and other estate planning documents. By including them by name and then stating that you wish to leave them with nothing, you are eliminating the possibility that this could be contested later on as vague. Your wishes, though harsh, will have been made unequivocally clear.

An experienced Minnesota probate lawyer can help walk you through the complicated process of establishing a workable estate plan. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.
Source: “Disinheriting someone is not easy,” by Geoff Williams, published at Reuters.com.


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