In researching your estate planning, you may have heard that some people choose to leave a specific heir just a single dollar. It sounds controversial and almost insulting, but is there a reason that people opt to do this?
Usually, people do it because they intend to disinherit that particular heir — but they want to make certain their estate doesn’t end up in litigation.
A very common estate-planning misconception
This idea does get tossed around from time to time, and it’s really just a misconception. Some people believe that this is the best way to disinherit someone from a will. Others think that giving someone a dollar means they can’t contest the estate plan, which they could do if they got nothing.
This is inaccurate on all fronts. For one thing, you can disinherit someone by making it clear in your will that you want them to get nothing. You don’t have to leave them a dollar. The only issue your estate could run into is if you don’t mention that heir at all in your will and they contest your will on the basis that you must have simply forgotten them. A dollar does show that you didn’t forget, but you can also just add a line about how you don’t want to leave them anything.
Secondly, no matter what you do, there is a chance that an angry heir will contest your will. A dollar doesn’t prevent that. They may argue that you lacked the mental capacity to make such a plan, for instance, or that someone else influenced your decisions.
Can you prevent a contest over your will?
The best way to avoid a contest is to do your estate planning early and talk to your heirs about your decisions in advance. As you look into your options, include them and allow them to start conversations now, rather than contests later. Ultimately, if you’re determined to disinherit someone, you may have better methods available to you. An estate planning attorney can help.