Why Leaving an Estranged Relative $1.00 in Your Living Trust Is Not a Good Idea

Sep 13, 2023
Estate Planning
Why Leaving an Estranged Relative $1.00 in Your Living Trust Is Not a Good Idea | AmeriEstate Legal Plan

Estate planning is a powerful tool that allows individuals to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away. One scenario that often comes up during estate planning discussions is the decision to leave a small inheritance, such as $1.00, to an estranged relative.

Here are important reasons why it's not a good idea to leave even a nominal amount to an estranged family member.

  1. Leaving a small sum to an estranged relative can invite legal challenges to your estate plan. Even a symbolic amount can give that individual a legal standing to contest the trust, potentially leading to lengthy and costly court battles that could erode your intended beneficiaries' inheritance.
  2. When an estranged relative is named as a beneficiary, the distribution of assets can be delayed due to legal proceedings or negotiations. This delay can cause frustration and financial stress for your intended beneficiaries who may have to wait longer to receive their inheritances. The estranged relative gains entitlement to receive a copy of the trust, an inventory of estate assets, financial records, and other relevant documents. They also gain the right to raise objections.
  3. While your intention might be to express a lack of meaningful connection, an estranged relative could interpret the gesture differently. They might see it as an invitation to claim a larger share of the estate, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts among beneficiaries.
  4. Even in death, your decisions can impact family dynamics. Leaving a token inheritance to an estranged relative might fuel resentment and bitterness among your loved ones, potentially damaging relationships that could have been mended over time.

An alternative would be disinheritance.

Choosing to disinherit an estranged relative is a more straightforward and effective option. Excluding them from your living trust leaves no doubt about your decision.

Here's why disinheritance is a reasonable alternative:

  1. Disinheritance leaves no room for interpretation. It's a straightforward and obvious way to communicate your decision to exclude a particular individual from your estate plan.
  2. Disinheritance minimizes the potential for legal battles.
  3. Disinheritance ensures that your wishes are carried out. By explicitly stating your decision, you avoid any misinterpretation that might come up.
  4. Choosing to disinherit can offer a sense of emotional closure. It removes any expectations of inheritance, allowing everyone to move forward without false hopes.

AmeriEstate is here to help. We provide personalized services and ensure all your estate plan details are in order, giving you peace of mind that you and yours are protected. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.