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Do you have to leave assets to all family members?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Estate Planning

Estate planning can be a complicated process. People need to have specific goals in mind and an awareness of Ohio state laws. Mistakes could potentially lead to challenges for your loved ones, such as will contests in probate court.

Uneven inheritances and other terms that the beneficiaries of an estate plan feel are unfair, like an individual’s disinheritance, might lead to probate litigation. Those engaged in estate planning therefore need to think carefully about their wishes and ensure they comply with the law so that their estate won’t end up diminished by litigation.

Can someone choose to leave more assets for certain beneficiaries than others or omit certain people completely?

Testators have a lot of discretion

There are certain rules that people cannot violate. A testator (the person who creates a will) cannot disinherit their spouse, for example, unless they discuss that decision with their spouse ahead of time. A disinherited spouse could take the matter to court and invoke their statutory right to a portion of the estate.

However, when it comes to children and other presumptive beneficiaries, the testator can choose what they believe is appropriate. Many people decide to leave equal bequests to all of their adult children, for example, to avoid conflict. However, doing so is not a requirement. Those who choose to disinherit one member of their family will want to mention that decision in the will to avoid challenges based on the claim they omitted someone by mistake.

Children and grandchildren do not have any statutory right to demand an inheritance. They don’t generally have the option of contesting someone’s estate plan simply because they feel that it is unfair that their sibling or cousin received more from the estate than they did.

They would need a reason to challenge the estate, such as an allegation of undue influence or lack of capacity on the part of the testator. Learning enough about Ohio state law to avoid obvious violations is a smart move for someone potentially planning to leave more for some family members than others. So is having experienced legal guidance.