Can I put a clause in my Will that states if it is determined that the primary beneficiary contributed to my death through negligence or otherwise that they receive nothing?

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Can I put a clause in my Will that states if it is determined that the primary beneficiary contributed to my death through negligence or otherwise that they receive nothing?

I may be depending on a loved one to care for me while recovering from major

surgery. This person knows that they are the primary beneficiary in my will, but I

want to remove any incentive for them to increase the risk of my death by

Asked on September 26, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Such a clause would be legal. In practice, it may be difficult to enforce: the executor of the will (who would have to be someone other than this beneficiary, of course) would have to be willing to go to court over this, if the executor denies the assets to the beneficiary and the beneficiary refuses to accept that and brings a legal action. If that happened, the executor would have to hire a lawyer and the "estate," as managed by the executor, would have to be able to provide evidence showing that the beneficiary contributed to your death. So you may be asking a lot of an executor, and depending on the size of your estate, a significant portion of the assets could potentially be used up in litigation (e.g. on the lawyer's fees). And, of course, it may not be possible to *prove* in court the person's contribution to your death.
A better idea: if you have any belief that this "loved one" may act to hasten your death, get someone else to care for you, and/or remove them as the beneficiary. Why are you letting someone you fear may kill you, even if by omission (not giving you medication), take care of you when you are vulnerable, and why are you giving them most of your assets?


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