YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU
the tax laws, especially regarding estate taxes. Wills should be reviewed every two to three years, unless something major (i.e., the birth of a child, or remarriage) occurs before that. If you haven’t reviewed your will for a while, do so now.
Sometimes my clients don’t want to leave certain family mem- bers any of their estates. Who you choose to leave an inheritance to is your decision, and if you feel that you want to disinherit someone, that’s your choice. You can cut out any person, including immediate family members, simply by leaving them out of your will. You may want to specify in your will which people you don’t want to inherit anything. This will make contesting your will much more difficult. Or, you can simply leave them just a few dollars. This will definitely get your point across.
As far as disinheriting spouses, ex-spouses, children, and grand- children, the rules vary. For spouses that live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin), the law assumes that your spouse owns one-half of everything you both earned during your marriage. But by both of you signing a legal document that states which prop- erty belongs to which person, you will be able to decide where your assets go upon your death. In noncommunity property states, your spouse legally has the right to claim one-fourth to one-half of your estate, regardless of what your will states. However, this provision usually kicks in only if your spouse contests your will.
If you are worried that your ex-spouse may try to claim part of your estate after your death, don’t be. Unless they have a claim against your estate prior to your death (i.e., a qualified domestic- relations order, a court order that awards a portion of your retirement or pension benefits to your ex-spouse), that person won’t be able to lay claim to anything. But, it will also depend on how things were divided during the divorce.
Should you choose to disinherit any of your children or grand- children, all you need to do is specify your wishes in your will. But just because you leave them out accidentally, doesn’t mean that they won’t receive anything from your will. Many states have laws that protect against accidental disinheritance. This way if you don’t update your will, and you have had an additional grandchild or two