If you've ever had a conversation about end of life wishes or estate planning, then you probably know that every person should have a will if they own any property at all and care about what happens to it when they die. Unfortunately, simply creating a will is not enough; the will must be legally sound in order for a court to uphold it.
Wills are not magical documents that exist outside of the law, but you might not guess that from looking at the terms that some people place in their wills and expect their survivors or a court to honor. A will cannot contain terms or provisions that violate the law, especially when it comes to disinheriting individuals from a will creator's estate.
For instance, the law does not generally allow a parent to disinherit a dependent child. Depending on the circumstances, a court may consider this a form of abuse. Similarly, it is not usually upheld when a person disinherits his or her spouse without the spouse's consent.
Furthermore, even if a certain course of action is technically legal, it may be more trouble than it is worth. A person may disinherit a nondependent child, for instance, but this may open the estate up to lengthy legal challenges that tie up the assets for months or years and drain them away with legal fees and other expenses.
Creating a will is an important responsibility. If you are only now considering your will, or if you have concerns about a will you previously created, protect yourself and your wishes by scrutinizing this document through the eyes of the law using the best legal resources you can find. You deserve to know exactly what your will can and cannot do for you as you outline your wishes for the legacy you wish to leave.