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Why would you leave $1 to an heir?

As you do your estate planning, you talk to a friend who is also doing theirs. This friend has three children, but they're estranged from one of them. They never talk, and they haven't in years. You know that they do not want to leave their inheritance to this child.

One day, as you discuss the tactics you're using, they mention that they left that child a single dollar in their estate plan. Why would they do this? Is it meant to be insulting? Did they think they legally had to leave something to every child, so this was the only way to cut them out?

You absolutely do not have to leave something to everyone and, while leaving someone $1 may feel insulting, it's likely not meant that way. Some people just use this tactic of leaving a small inheritance to effectively disinherit the child.

Let's be clear: You do not have to do this. Usually, the goal is not to give the child $1, but just to acknowledge that the lack of a larger inheritance is intentional. A will that simply doesn't mention a child may appear to be incomplete. A will that gives them a dollar clearly states that they should not get anything more and that it was done on purpose.

You can do this if you'd like, but you can also just add a note saying that the child does not get an inheritance. You don't have to leave anything.

If your estate planning gets complicated, it is important that you understand all of the options you have.

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