As we age, our relationships and our needs change. We may have new friends and family members. We may purchase property or experience success in business. Just as our loved ones and assets evolve throughout the years, our wishes regarding our estate plan may also change. If you want to prevent or exclude someone from inheriting your property, Georgia law allows you to disinherit them from your will.

There are many reasons for disinheriting someone. You may have had a change in your marital status and want to remove a former spouse or step-children from your estate plan. You might have grown estranged from an heir or family member and no longer want your assets to pass to them. Some people chose to remove family members from their will because that individual is very wealthy, they’ve already received financial gifts, or, alternatively, they are financially irresponsible and should not receive any estate assets. Also, some people change their will because a family member has a serious health condition and needs greater support than their other heirs.

Not Mentioning the Person(s) In Your Will

Outside of your spouse and children, many heirs and extended family members do not have inheritance rights. They may not, under Georgia law, be automatically entitled to anything from your estate. Therefore, if someone wanted to disinherit an extended family member, it could be as simple as not mentioning them in their will. Just be sure to check with an estate planning attorney beforehand about Georgia’s specific rules of inheritance. If you have already drafted your will and need to update the language, there are a couple of additional options.

Updating a Will by Codicil

For someone who wants to make a simple or minor change to their will, they may want to file an amendment to their existing will. That amendment is called a codicil. In the codicil, you would simply need to revise the paragraph that deals with the person you want to disinherit. The codicil should reference the paragraph from the original will and say that you are choosing to revise or omit it. The codicil must follow Georgia’s requirements for writing, witnesses, and notarization. Also, the state does have laws in place regarding the disinheritance of spouses or minor children – so be sure to check with an experienced estate planning attorney about inheritance laws and the required codicil language.

Revoking a Will

In Georgia, a person can revoke their will at any time by 1) expressly revoking it, 2) destroying the will, or 3) executing a new will. First, the express revocation or revoking of a will happens when the testator (the person who created the original will) writes a testamentary document that contains language about intentionally revoking or revoking their will. Express revocations typically take effect immediately. Second, a testator can revoke a will by destroying it. The testator can shred the original document, tear it apart, burn it, or write “canceled” across every page. Third, one of the most common ways of revoking a will in Georgia is by executing a new will. The new will must meet all of Georgia’s legal requirements concerning writing, witnesses, and notarization. The document must contain language that indicates all prior wills are revoked and invalid.

Have Additional Questions? Contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates’ Estate Planning Team

If you have additional questions about how to disinherit someone, or if you’re interested in setting up an estate planning consultation, please reach out to us at (770) 933-9009 or via our online contact page. Our estate planning team would be happy to help.