How to prevent an estranged family from inheriting?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How to prevent an estranged family from inheriting?

Is there anything specific that I can include in my Will that states that my estranged father, who I have met only once in my life and who never paid child support, will never be able to inherit from my estate? I have designated multiple people as beneficiaries to prevent having to revert to the state’s rules of succession. However, I am concerned they could/would contest the Will should they find out I passed and I want it documented, in the event it went to court, that I do not want anything to be given to that side of my family – ever. Is there is a clause or wording to that effect that I can include in my Will.

Asked on July 8, 2017 under Estate Planning, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In addition to making sure that your entire estate (all you assets, etc.) are clearly designated as going to other beneficiaries, you can and should include language stating that the following persons have deliberately not been included in the will, may not inherit from you, and have been disinherited. You might also name an institution or charity (a college, a medical/disease fund, etc.--whatever cause you like) as the ultimate contingent or back-up beneficiary, in case some how every person you individually name cannot or chooses to not take their inheritance (e.g. predeceases you; cannot be located; disclaims the inheritance; etc.)--that way, in the worst case, the charity gets the money, not the estranged family.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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