There are times when parents make the often painful decision not to leave anything to a child in their wills. Regardless of what the reason for the decision is, it is solely up to the person making out the will. It is possible to disinherit qualified heirs, but it can take some planning to make sure that the will won’t be contested.
Anyone can contest a will once it is filed for probate. Whether the party is successful depends on many factors, but at the heart of the matter is whether that person can convince the court that the will should not stand. If that happens, New Jersey law could take over and the child that was to be disinherited will get a share of the estate. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to execute several wills.
This process of filing “sequential wills” can establish an undeniable pattern. If an heir is disinherited in the first will, filing a second and at least third will reiterating that a person is not to receive a portion of the estate can show the court that it was, in fact, an intentional act on the part of the person making the will. There will need to be slight changes made to the sequential wills to make sure there was justification for changing the previous will.
It may seem like a lot of work, but if a New Jersey parent is adamant about his or her decision, it will be worth it. Most likely, the decision to intentionally cut out qualified heirs is not going to be popular. As hard as it may be for the parent making the decision, doing nothing may ensure that a child or children will receive a portion of the estate despite the parent’s wishes.
Source: Bloomberg.com, “You Want to Cut Your Kid Out of Your Will. Or Do You?” Lewis Braham, July 23, 2013