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Does Michigan law allow you to disinherit family members?

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2022 | Estate Administration & Probate

After supporting someone financially for years, you may eventually grow to resent that obligation. Especially when people treat you poorly or fail to take appropriate steps to provide for their own basic needs, the idea that they expect you to continue providing them with financial support may frustrate and even anger you.

It is a common response for those experiencing a long-term decline in the relationship that they have with an immediate family member to think about updating their estate plans. Parents and grandparents may start considering the removal of certain family members from their wills or other testamentary documents.

Can you disinherit someone in Michigan if you are unhappy with their behavior or your relationship with them?

Michigan gives you control over your estate with advanced planning

One common reason people create estate plans is to have total control over what happens with their property after they die. Otherwise, intestate succession laws determine which people from your family members receive which property.

When you write out documents explaining your preferences for the distribution of your property, you take control over who inherits what from your estate. Your children and most other family members only have legally-protected inheritance rights in a scenario where you do not leave behind written instructions.

The only person with inheritance rights ensured by law are your spouse. You cannot disinherit your spouse. When you marry someone, they have certain rights that other family members do not. Your spouse shares in your property unless you have a marital agreement with them and maintain every asset separately. If you leave nothing to your spouse, they can easily challenge your estate and receive at least their statutory portion of your property, if not more.

How do you disinherit someone?

There are several tactics that can work to ensure that you disinherit someone thoroughly. Simply removing their name from your will as a beneficiary might lead to them contesting the will. A better approach will be to leave them one small item or a very small amount of money, like a single dollar.

Some people specifically state that they have disinherited a person by name in their estate plans. Finally, you may want to create a trust to manage the distribution of your property after your death. A trust will be harder for a disappointed beneficiary to challenge and will also give you control over what happens with your property even after your death.

Educating yourself about estate planning rules in Michigan will help you make the right choices given the property and relationships you currently have.