There are many reasons why you may choose to disinherit a family member ranging from addiction issues to preventing a disabled relative from losing government benefits. The way you go about disinheriting the person will depend on their relationship to you.
You cannot disinherit a spouse completely unless the spouse agrees in writing, such as in a prenuptial agreement. Even if you leave a Last Will and Testament that attempts to disinherit a spouse, the law allows the spouse to take what is known as an elective share. Currently in Maryland if there are surviving children, the spouse may elect to take 1/3 of the deceased spouse’s net estate. If there are no children, the surviving spouse may elect to take ½ of the net estate. Note that this only applies to probate property.
No one else, including your children, have a right to inherit from your estate so you can simply disinherit them by using the appropriate language in your will or trust documents. To ensure that your distribution goals are met, it is imperative in these situations that you meet with an experienced estate planning attorney. A legacy letter, or ethical will, is often suggested to accompany your will that explains the reasons behind the disinheritance. This can go a long way toward preventing will contests. Contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area to discuss your plans for disinheriting a family member.