When a person in Oklahoma is drafting a last will and testament, there may be a number of difficult decisions to make regarding who should get what. Leaving a will without naming a specific person can result in hard feelings and disputes among family members. Of course, even when everyone is included, these feelings may be unavoidable if there are already expectations in place from family members who want to benefit from your estate. In most cases, though, people have their own reasons for choosing how to distribute their assets among their heirs, whether they are financial or personal effects. This also includes the choice to leave someone out.
In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons why someone leaving a will without naming a specific loved one might occur. Estate planning is a highly personal matter. If you have questions or concerns after reading this article, Ball Morse Lowe is ready to help. We provide free consultations. You can schedule your free consultation now by clicking here.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will?
According to CNBC, parents or the nearest family members receive the assets of a deceased person without a will if there is no spouse or children. If you die without a will, this is known as dying intestate. How the assets (including the family home) are distributed by the Oklahoma probate court is known as intestate succession.
- If you have children and no spouse, your children would inherit everything.
- If you have a spouse and no children, parents, or siblings, your spouse inherits everything.
- If you have a spouse and children with your spouse, your spouse inherits half of your intestate property (such as bank accounts and real estate held solely in your name) and your children would inherit the other half.
- If you have a spouse and at least one child with your spouse and at least one child with someone other than your spouse, your spouse inherits 1/2 of all property acquired through joint efforts during the course of the marriage and splits the remaining intestate property equally with the children they share with you. The descendants inherit the remainder.
- If you have a spouse and parents but no children, your spouse inherits all of the property acquired through joint efforts during the course of the marriage and 1/3 of any of the remaining intestate property. Your parents would inherit the remainder.
- If you have a spouse and siblings, your spouse inherits all of the property acquired through joint efforts during the course of the marriage and 1/3 of any of the remaining intestate property. Your siblings would inherit the remainder.
- If you have parents but no spouse or children, your parents would inherit everything.
- If you have siblings and no spouse, children, or parents, your siblings would inherit everything.
To some, this outline may appear perfectly fine. Yet, the reality is that family life is far from perfect. We can all think of at least one person that may not do well if they were provided with a large number of assets or money. There are several reasons why leaving a will without naming a specific person could be appealing. We will discuss a few of the most common reasons soon. However, to prevent a specific person, known as the heir or beneficiary, from inheriting, the person leaving a will would have to write it in a way that first specifically states who the beneficiaries are. Then, a statement that an omission is intentional may make it more difficult for the will to be contested.
The courts will not honor a will of a person who attempts to disinherit a living spouse or minor children. However, it is important for you to note that this article is educational in nature and not legal advice.
For legal advice related to leaving a will to exclude someone specific, please contact our law firm, Ball Morse Lowe, to schedule your free consultation.
Leaving a Will to Disinherit: Common Reasons
Why are family members disinherited when leaving a will? There are three common reasons.
- The family member being disinherited is an adult child who has received what is referred to as an advanced inheritance distribution. Essentially, during your life, the adult child already experienced the benefit from your estate that they would have received upon your death. This could be in the form of money or property, such as real estate. If this is the case, an estate planning attorney can assist you in partially or fully disinheriting this person when leaving a will.
- There is no relationship with the person being disinherited. This could happen for any reason. One of the most common reasons is because a married couple creates a blended family. Minor children may be negatively impacted by the experience of divorce. Prior spouses may cause problems that create a divide between you and your minor children that continue into adulthood. Family issues may develop for what appears to be no apparent reason that causes the deterioration of what was once exceptional relationships. Regardless of the reason for no relationship with adult family members, it is one of the most common reasons for disinheritance.
- A conflict of interest about life choices exists. Earlier, we mentioned that some adult family members who receive a significant portion of assets or property (including bank accounts or real estate) could actually get hurt. For example, if you know that an adult child has an active drug addiction, the benefit from your estate could be harmful.
However, choosing to disinherit is not without its potential problems. Doing so could result in fights among family members. Not only that, it may prompt the family member who receives nothing to contest the will. Before intentionally leaving someone out of your will, it may be a good idea to consider the option of creating a trust instead, so that a trustee can evaluate the situation at the time of death and adjust the distributions accordingly.
Learn More About Oklahoma Estate Planning Options
Leaving a will that disinherits a family member and creating a trust are just two options out of several Oklahoma estate planning options. Estate planning is highly personal. It includes bank accounts, real estate, and other assets. To learn more about your options, schedule your free consultation with the Ball Morse Lowe estate planning attorneys by clicking here to start the contact form process.
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