In March of 2017 the first season of FX’s anthology television series Feud introduced the legendary Hollywood rivalry between two legendary actresses, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, to a new generation. Focusing on the infamous fighting that went on behind the scenes of the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, the story shed light on some of the animosity between the actresses but omitted many aspects of their personal lives. One thing the series did not discuss were then estrangements both actresses had with their children that ultimately led to both women disinheriting some of their children. The decision to disinherit a child is not one that is made lightly, but if it is something that you are considering, it is best to be aware of the potential consequences.
Categorically disinheriting your child from a will does not mean that they will not attempt to dispute your final wishes. It is not unusual for children who are omitted from a will to accuse other family members or caregivers of exerting undue influence. A few people have attempted to add clauses to their estate plans that punish family members who dispute a will, but these addendums may not be enough to discourage a truly angry relative. Lawsuits challenging the validity of a will can be costly, time consuming, and harmful to a family that is already grieving the loss of someone close to them.
No litigation is cheap, and when an estate is involved, things can become shockingly expensive. Each time an inheritance is questioned or a will is challenged an already time consuming probate process could quickly stretch into a multi-year estate battle. During this time the estate itself is in limbo, the executor is forced to continue administering the estate as best as possible, and often times any inheritance that was going to be received is completely squandered on fees associated with litigation. It is not uncommon for an inheritance dispute to end with neither party receiving anything.
Once an estate related court battle has reached an end, family members or close friends rarely make amends. During a time when family needs to pull together for moral support, an inheritance dispute tears them apart and makes it almost impossible for the parties to reestablish their relationships. Depending on the property or amount of money involved, the amount of time the dispute lasted, and how the situation resolved, some family members may lose touch and never become close again.
Protect Your Family from This Fate
No one wants their family to pull apart when they should be coming together to bond and offer each other moral support. If you have reason to disinherit a family member but want to prevent conflict after you are gone, talking to a trust and estate planning attorney is absolutely vital. The attorneys at MMZ Law understand how difficult omitting anyone is from a will and we work with you to determine the best ways to handle a delicate situation. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation at our Claremont, California location so that we can begin discussing your needs.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.