How Do I Take Someone Out of My Will?

Sometimes, an event happens in your life that causes you to want to remove a person from your will. It may be a friend, parent, sibling, spouse, or one of your children. In many cases, this is your right. After all, the primary purpose for executing a will is to determine exactly who will inherit your property after your death. However, some New Jersey laws may prevent you from disinheriting minor children or a surviving spouse. We will look at these situations below.

Disinheriting a Child in New Jersey

In New Jersey, you may disinherit a child. It is best to state your intention clearly in your will ("I specifically disinherit my daughter, Jill Smith"). There is no need to provide an explanation for the disinheritance. In fact, it may be better not to provide a reason because the reason could be a basis for contesting your will in probate court.

For example, if you want to disinherit a child because he or she doesn't maintain regular contact with you, do not say in your will that you are disinheriting your child because he or she has ceased communications with you. The disinherited child could then present any emails or phone bills indicating otherwise. If you do wish to provide a reason for disinheriting a child, make sure the reason is accurate and cannot be disputed.

Disinheriting a Spouse in New Jersey

In New Jersey, there is only one person whom you cannot disinherit—your spouse (unless your spouse consents to being disinherited). If you do disinherit your spouse in your will, he or she can assert an "elective share" against your estate during probate. An elective share generally amounts to about one-third of your property and assets.

Remove an Executor from Your Will

An important benefit of writing a will is choosing your own executor to oversee the distribution of your assets during probate. If you want to change the executor of your will, you can easily remove the executor from your will and replace him or her with another. It is best to simply execute a new will naming your new executor. If you have doubts about the person you appointed to be your executor, it is best to take care of the issue now, as it becomes much more difficult to remove an executor in probate court.

Contact Us about Taking Someone Out of Your Will

New Jersey laws regarding disinheritance are complicated. The estate planning group at The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C., can help make sure your wishes are carried out. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.