In order to disinherit a child, or indeed a grandchild, the person making a will needs to expressly state this in their last will & testament. Once this statement is included in a will, the child or grandchild is effectively disinherited by not making any gift or bequest to them.
In order to further strengthen the disinheritance provisions, a no-contest clause should also be included in the will. This is simply a clause put in a will that states if any of the beneficiaries under the will challenge the gift left to them, they will receive nothing (or a nominal amount only) under the will.
A ‘no contest’ clause is designed to threaten to disinherit a child or potential beneficiary under a will if that beneficiary challenges the terms of the will in court. Where the beneficiary challenges the will, or any provision in it, the clause triggers a complete and total disinheritance of the beneficiary.
The Uniform Probate Code allows for no contest clauses so long as the person challenging the will doesn’t have probable cause to do so (where the last will has been fraudulently altered, for example).
One thing should be clear; if someone wishes to disinherit a child or a grandchild then the terms of their last will and testament should expressly state their intention to disinherit them. Also, if they have children born after making their will, then in order to disinherit them, it will be necessary for them to make a new will or add a codicil to your existing will. If you do not do so, you run the risk of having your last will successfully challenged.
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For more information on wills, check out some of our other articles on wills in our Learning Center.
If you would prefer a more in-depth understanding of wills and to learn how to make your own, check out our book How to Make a Last Will & Testament. “Make Your Own Last Will and Testament” includes a plain English review of the matters you need to consider when making a will, and includes all of the instructions and template forms necessary to make your own will. It will show you how to leave money and property to your loved ones, avoid intestacy, appoint guardians for your children, save on legal fees and probate, much more.
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