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Grounds for Disinheriting a Niece or Nephew – Each One Has a Story

grounds for disinheriting a niece or nephew

Although you don’t legally need any grounds for disinheriting a niece or nephew, an aunt or uncle have their reasons. An aunt or uncle and nieces or nephews are people, life is long and relationships are complicated.

In most states, a competent adult has the right to make a will that disinherits their niece or nephew. Although the niece or nephew has the right to sue and try to overturn the will, it’s a valid legal document which will stand unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Disagreements may arise. Both an aunt or uncle and nieces or nephews can have grievances against each other. There may be financial or personal reasons why an aunt or uncle feels that a niece or nephew should be disinherited. Whatever the situation might be, you will need representation by an estate attorney. You can call attorney Albert Goodwin at 212-233-1233 or 718-509-9774 if you need a consultation about your situation where grounds for disinheriting a niece or nephew play a part.

In this article, we will discuss the most common grounds for disinheriting a niece or nephew.

A Niece or Nephew Not Involved With the Aunt or Uncle in their Later Years

The other nieces or nephews were more involved with the aunt or uncle. An aunt or uncle might disinherit the nieces or nephews who were not as involved with the aunt or uncle, especially in the later stages of their life, when an aunt or uncle needed the help. When an aunt or uncle are younger and more independent, they don’t need the help of their nieces or nephews. As an aunt or uncle get older, they may need a lot of help, or they simply need company and someone to help them out once in a while. A niece or nephew who is more involved with the aunt or uncle is the one that often gets a preference in inheritance. Conversely, a niece or nephew who is not involved with the aunt or uncle as much may get disinherited.

The aunt or uncle feels abandoned by the niece or nephew. An aunt or uncle might disinherit a niece or nephew because they feel abandoned by them. It’s possible for an aunt or uncle to feel abandoned by all of their nieces or nephews.

A niece or nephew lives closer than the other nieces or nephews. A niece or nephew who lives closer than another niece or nephew, especially if a niece or nephew lives out of state as opposed to in close proximity to the aunt or uncle. The niece or nephew who lives closer to the aunt or uncle sometimes receives better treatment in inheritance because the aunt or uncle feels that the closer niece or nephew spends more time with them. The aunt or uncle bonds more with the niece or nephew who is closer, may see them and the grandnieces or nephews from that niece or nephew more. That creates a feeling of a better relationship with the aunt or uncle, which may result in disinheriting the out-of-state nieces or nephews.

Emotional Grounds for Disinheriting a Niece or Nephew

Favoritism – an aunt or uncle favoring one niece or nephew over the other. An aunt or uncle may not admit this, but some of us favor some nieces or nephews over others. A niece or nephew may have a better temperament. A niece or nephew may be better in their studies, at sports or at other things that the aunt or uncle deems important. A niece or nephew may be more successful in life. A niece or nephew may be more like the aunt or uncle. Or less like the aunt or uncle. There are no precise reasons for favoritism, it’s often a gut feeling. And it’s often there.

The aunt or uncle does not approve of the niece or nephew’s life or lifestyle choices. An aunt or uncle may not agree with their nieces or nephews’s choices of religion, sexual orientation like being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual, job, or marriage or life partner, or any other things the aunt or uncle disapproves of in a niece or nephew.

A Niece or Nephew is Doing Better Than The Other Niece or Nephew

A niece or nephew is well off. When an aunt or uncle has multiple nieces or nephews and some of them are well off and other ones are not, an aunt or uncle might disinherit the well-off nieces or nephews in order to benefit the ones that are not so well-off.

A niece or nephew already received their inheritance. An aunt or uncle might feel that they’ve already helped the niece or nephew enough financially and they can now disinherit them in favor of the other nieces or nephews whom they have not helped as much. An aunt or uncle might have helped the niece or nephew pay for college or even for the grandnieces or nephews’s college, help with buying a house, help with starting a business and other financial gifts over the years. An aunt or uncle might feel that the niece or nephew already received their inheritance.

The other nieces or nephews need more help. Some nieces or nephews need more help than others. An aunt or uncle might be inclined to leave inheritance to the nieces or nephews who were not as lucky.

Favoring a disabled niece or nephew. An aunt or uncle might feel that a disabled niece or nephew needs more help than the other nieces or nephews. An aunt or uncle may create a special needs trust/supplemental needs trust to cover the niece or nephew’s non-medical expenses.

Not Wanting the Inheritance to Go to Third Parties

Avoiding a niece or nephew’s creditors. An aunt or uncle might feel that they don’t want their hard-earned money to go to a niece or nephew’s creditors. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.

A niece or nephew’s divorce, spouse, soon to be ex-spouse or partner. An aunt or uncle might feel that they don’t want their hard-earned money to go to a niece or nephew’s husband, wife or spouse, whether or not they are in the process of divorce. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.

Medicaid and Government Benefits. An aunt or uncle may want to preserve a niece or nephew’s eligibility for government benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Supplemental Income from the Social Security Administration. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.

Communication Grounds for Disinheriting a Niece or Nephew

Lack of communication, not enough communication or miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings that can result in a niece or nephew being disinherited.

Conflict Grounds for Disinheriting a Niece or Nephew

An aunt or uncle being upset at a niece or nephew. An aunt or uncle being upset at a niece or nephew can lead to an aunt or uncle disinheriting a niece or nephew.

Family conflict. A family conflict may cause a fight and leave an aunt or uncle upset at the nieces or nephews, resulting in a niece or nephew getting disinherited.

Breakdown of relationship. A niece or nephew can hold a grudge against an aunt or uncle since they were teenagers, over early and late adulthood.

Practical Grounds for Disinheriting a Niece or Nephew

The aunt or uncle does not approve of the niece or nephew’s spending habits. The aunt or uncle may feel that the niece or nephew spends money inappropriately, such as on gambling, risky activities, unneeded expenses, or expenses not deemed appropriate by the aunt or uncle. The aunt or uncle may be more conservative than the niece or nephew and have a different outlook on life.

A niece or nephew’s issues with drugs or alcohol. An aunt or uncle may disinherit a niece or nephew due to worries the niece or nephew will use the money to fuel their drug or alcohol addiction. In situations involving a niece or nephew’s addiction to drugs or alcohol abuse, it makes more sense to set up a trust for a niece or nephew, as opposed to outright disinheriting them. What a trust does is it appoints someone to manage the money for the niece or nephew, to make sure that the niece or nephew is taken care of without having them spend money on drugs or alcohol.

An aunt or uncle may feel that being a younger or older niece or nephew is a reason to get less inheritance or get disinherited.

If you would like to get more information on grounds for disinheriting a niece or nephew, you can call wills, trusts and estates attorney Albert Goodwin at 212-233-1233 or 718-509-9774.