Although you don’t legally need any grounds for disinheriting your sibling, most siblings have their reasons. Siblings 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 sibling. Although the sibling 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 siblings and siblings can have grievances against each other. There may be financial or personal reasons why a sibling feels that a sibling 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 sibling play a part.
In this article, we will discuss the most common grounds for disinheriting a sibling.
A Sibling That is Not Close
Some relatives are closer than others. In fact, some siblings are outright estranged.
The other siblings were more involved with the sibling. A sibling might disinherit the siblings who were not as involved with the sibling, especially in the later stages of their life, when the siblings needed the help. When siblings are younger and more independent, they don’t need the help of their siblings. As siblings 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 sibling who is more involved with the sibling is the one that often gets a preference in inheritance. Conversely, a sibling who is not involved with the sibling as much may get disinherited.
The sibling feels abandoned by their sibling. A sibling might disinherit a sibling because they feel abandoned by them. It’s possible for a sibling to feel abandoned by all of their siblings.
A sibling lives closer than the other siblings. A sibling who lives closer than another sibling, especially if a sibling lives out of state as opposed to in close proximity to the sibling. The sibling who lives closer to the sibling sometimes receives better treatment in inheritance because the sibling feels that the closer sibling spends more time with them. The sibling bonds more with the sibling who is closer, may see them and the grandsiblings from that sibling more. That creates a feeling of a better relationship with the sibling, which may result in disinheriting the out-of-state siblings.
A Sibling is Doing Better Than The Other Sibling
A sibling is well off. When a sibling has multiple siblings and some of them are well off and other ones are not, a sibling might disinherit the well-off siblings in order to benefit the ones that are not so well-off.
A sibling already received their inheritance. A sibling might feel that they’ve already helped the sibling enough financially and they can now disinherit them in favor of the other siblings whom they have not helped as much. A sibling might have helped the sibling pay for college or even for the grandsiblings’s college, help with buying a house, help with starting a business and other financial gifts over the years. A sibling might feel that the sibling already received their inheritance.
The other siblings need more help. Some siblings need more help than others. Siblings might be inclined to leave inheritance to the siblings who were not as lucky.
Favoring a disabled sibling. Siblings might feel that a disabled sibling needs more help than the other siblings. The siblings may create a special needs trust/supplemental needs trust to cover the sibling’s non-medical expenses.
Not Wanting the Inheritance to Go to Third Parties
Avoiding a sibling’s creditors. A sibling might feel that they don’t want their hard-earned money to go to a sibling’s creditors. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.
A sibling’s divorce, spouse, soon to be ex-spouse or partner. A sibling might feel that they don’t want their hard-earned money to go to a sibling’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. A sibling may want to preserve a sibling’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 Sibling
Lack of communication, not enough communication or miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings that can result in a sibling being disinherited.
Conflict Grounds for Disinheriting a Sibling
A sibling being upset at a sibling. A sibling being upset at a sibling can lead to a sibling disinheriting a sibling.
Family conflict. A family conflict may cause a fight and leave the siblings upset at the siblings, resulting in a sibling getting disinherited.
Breakdown of relationship. A sibling can hold a grudge against a sibling for what happened during their siblinghood, when they were teenagers, over early and late adulthood.
Practical Grounds for Disinheriting a Sibling
The sibling does not approve of the sibling’s spending habits. The sibling may feel that the sibling spends money inappropriately, such as on gambling, risky activities, unneeded expenses, or expenses not deemed appropriate by the sibling. The sibling may be more conservative than the sibling and have a different outlook on life.
A sibling’s issues with drugs or alcohol. A sibling may disinherit a sibling due to worries the sibling will use the money to fuel their drug or alcohol addiction. In situations involving a sibling’s addiction to drugs or alcohol abuse, it makes more sense to set up a trust for a sibling, as opposed to outright disinheriting them. What a trust does is it appoints someone to manage the money for the sibling, to make sure that the sibling is taken care of without having them spend money on drugs or alcohol.
A sibling may feel that being a younger or older sibling is a reason to get less inheritance or get disinherited.
If you would like to get more information on grounds for disinheriting a sibling, you can call wills, trusts and estates attorney Albert Goodwin at 212-233-1233 or 718-509-9774.