Fans of the comic strip Peanuts might remember a panel in which Patty and Violet are planning a party.
“Let’s not invite Charlie Brown,” Patty says.
“OK, we won’t invite Charlie Brown,” Violet replies.
“And let’s not invite Lucy,” Patty continues.
“Fine. We won’t invite Lucy,” Violet agrees.
Then, looking up from her list, Patty exclaims, “It’s a lot more fun not inviting people than it is inviting them!”
The impulse that prompted Patty’s remark can also apply when writing a will. The crazy aunt who makes homophobic remarks? She’s out. The estranged brother who refused to attend your gay wedding? He gets nothing.
All joking aside, deciding who should inherit from you requires careful thought. The most important people in your life should of course top the list. Your partner or spouse, your children, or anyone you hold dear ought to be remembered in your estate plan.
But what about those people you specifically don’t want to attend the party? The best way to keep your assets out of their hands is to have a current estate plan in place. At a minimum, this would include a will or trust, a durable power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. If you don’t have a will, your disapproving relatives might inherit from you under the laws of “intestacy.”
Your will or trust should specifically mention the people you wish to disinherit. Including their names will make it clear that they were intentionally omitted and not simply overlooked.