Writing someone out of your will (disinheriting)

Family relationships can be complex.  There are all sorts of reasons why you may choose to leave someone out of your will. Even if they might have assumed they would be included in your will.

The Courts recognise that it is important that everyone should be able to do as they wish with their estate.  For many, especially those who are retired and cash-poor (but asset rich) it is the little power they can exert over family affairs.

To disinherit someone all you need to do is make a will without reference to that person at all. To avoid an accusation that you lacked mental capacity and simply forgot about them you may choose to leave a letter of wishes [LINK:/letter-of-wishes] with the will.

Be aware that if you disinherit someone who would have expected to inherit from you, your will is more likely to be legally challenged.  There may even be accusations of undue influence or fraud levelled against the beneficiaries left in your will.

If the person you are disinheriting is a dependent of yours i.e. you pay towards their upkeep and/ or they rely on you financially they can make a claim against your estate.  The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (IPFDA 1975) applies to you if you are domiciled in England & Wales.  It also sets out who can claim, and the timescales.

The following classes of people can make a claim under the IPFDA 1975:

  • Your spouse or partner
  • Former spouse or civil partner
  • Someone “living as you spouse or civil partner”
  • Your child
  • Someone treated as your child (e.g. a stepchild)
  • Someone you financially maintain.

As ever, you should do what you can to mitigate the chance of a successful challenge to your will.  If you believe the person being disinherited could challenge your will you can mitigate the risk by speaking with a traditional solicitor.