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What is a partial disinheritance?

Disinheritance means, in the most general sense, that you are leaving someone out of your will. They expected to get an inheritance from you -- often, this person is a child -- but your estate plan gives the money to others.

A partial disinheritance, then, is simply not as drastic. Instead of cutting that child out of the estate plan, you're just leaving them a smaller portion than their siblings. Maybe you have $500,000 to distribute, for instance, and one of your kids will only get $25,000, while the other two will split what is left over.

Even though you are still giving them something, this tactic can cause problems. They may try to contest the will, alleging that it is unfair or that someone influenced you to change the will. Some experts say you should use a no-contest clause if you really want your decision to stand.

The reasons to use a partial disinheritance vary from person to person. Maybe your heir has an addiction problem or poor spending habits, and you want to limit how much money they can waste. Maybe you wanted to cut them out completely, but you couldn't bring yourself to do it, so you left them a smaller amount than expected. Maybe they are very well off financially and simply do not need as much money as your other heirs.

No matter what your reasons are, you can see that this makes for a complex and potentially controversial estate plan. Make sure you take the time to really look over all of your legal options as you set it up.

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