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  • Kevin O'Sullivan

The Delicate Process of Disinheritance

With Thanksgiving upon us and the rest of the holiday reasons shortly to follow, we recall Tolstoy's words: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is un happy in its own way." It is in this spirit that we turn our attention to a common issue in estate planning -disinheritance.

Disinheritance refers to the exclusion of an individual as a beneficiary of an estate. From a practical position, the decision to disinherit someone should not be lightly taken, as it may ultimately lead to undue cost and expense through litigation of the will. Nevertheless, such undertaking are often warranted by the circumstances of the family dynamic. In that vein, disinheritance can be achieved through a variety of strategies, which we will happily discuss in later blogs. Today we will focus on one particular strategy: the interrorem clause.

An in-terrorem clause, sometimes referred to as a no-contest clause, in a New York will, simply (and usually sharply) states that a person who challenges the Will is precludes from inheriting under the Will. Although it is true, that many states will not enforce such as clauses, since they are seen as violating public policy and New York court views such provisions suspiciously, they are enforceable under EPTL 3-3.5.

Please feel free to contact Peter Zacchea to discuss estate planning. He is also available by email: We look forward to speaking to you!

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