Disinheritance: A Guide to Cutting Someone from Your Will

If you’ve fallen out with a friend or family member, you may be considering disinheriting them. Cutting someone out of your will is a serious step, and you’ll want to approach this with compassion and a level head. Explore your options for leaving someone out of your will.

Preparing to remove someone from your will

You’re completely within your rights to exclude someone when you make a will. You’re free to do so for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever.

However, before you make your final decision on who you'd like to leave your assets:

Take your time – disinheriting someone has consequences and can be a very difficult decision. Make sure that you are absolutely certain of your decision.

Talk in advance – rather than letting the news come as a shock, speak to the person or people involved. You may choose not to proceed, or it may make them less likely to contest your will later.

Seek legal advice – if possible, make sure ahead of time that your decision is legally and financially sound. You may be unable to disinherit someone if they’re already entitled, such as a part-owned home or business.

Problems may arise after you’ve passed. A disinherited person could potentially challenge the contents on of your will. However, not everyone can contest a will. In England and Wales, the person must be either:

  • Your spouse, civil partner, or cohabiting partner
  • Your former spouse or civil partner, if neither remarried
  • Your children, step-children, foster children, and any child who was treated as yours
  • Anyone financially dependent on you
  • Anyone living with you for two years until your death

Your family members aren't entitled to receive anything unless you don't have a will and named beneficiary. At this point, they could make a legal claim for all or parts of your estate.

So, you can’t stop someone challenging your will. But you can take several steps to ensure your final wishes are carried out.

How to help prevent a challenge to your will after disinheritance

Start afresh

If you want to remove someone from your will, don't add a separate document, also known as a codicil. Liaise with an legal expert to write a new will.

A new will will stop the document becoming too complicated and open to a challenge. It also means you can more accurately outline your current wishes. While rare, it’s also possible for codicils to get lost, meaning someone you cut out could end up inheriting.

Properly written and worded

As a legal document, your will should be as clear and unambiguous as possible. A will-writer or solicitor will make sure that everything is correctly written. This will include a statement naming the excluded person, to show this was intentional, not accidental.

Offer a token gift

Naming someone as a beneficiary of a small gift in your will can help them feel remembered and not left out. This can be through a memento or a small amount of money. It will make it far harder for them to later claim that you accidentally left them out.

You might also add a proviso that they may only inherit this gift if they do not contest your will. A solicitor will give you expert legal advice.

Include a ‘Letter of Wishes’

A Letter of WIshes is a non-binding document designed to make your decisions clearer. Often it lists assets like banks accounts, dictates the type of funeral you want, and who gets small personal possessions. This is all done with the purpose of making it easier to distribute your estate.

When you write a Letter of Wishes you should also explain why you've made decisions in your will. The Letter of Wishes should include reasons for disinheriting someone. This letter should be lodged alongside your will.

Talk to a doctor

Your state of health or mental capacity can be used as a challenge to your will. To avoid this, it's worth seeing if your doctor is willing to write a statement confirming that you're 'of sound mind'. This substantiates that you are aware of your actions and their consequences by cutting someone out of the will.

To further defend against a dispute, you could also ask your doctor to witness the signing of your will. Should a challenge arise, they will again be asked to confirm you were ‘of sound mind’.

Does it cost to remove someone from a will in the UK?

Removing an executer from a will does come at a legal cost. As with many legal expenses, how much you'll need to pay varies from case to case. If the case is complicated or the cut out Executer opposes it, costs for removal will be higher.

Once you successfully remove the Executer, the general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be legally obligated to pay the expenses of the successful party.

How much does it cost to remove someone from a will in the UK?

Costs for the removal of an Executer from a will can be anywhere between £5,000 and £15,000 plus VAT. As noted before, the more complicated the case, the more expensive the court fees will be.

If there are evidential issues, costs can reach heights of £20,000 and even £30,000 plus VAT.

Write the will you want

Your will is a deeply personal document – so, make sure it fully reflects and respects your wishes with The Law Superstore.

Whether you own a complex estate or just a few bits and bobs, we’ll help you compare prices for will-writers and law firms near you who will make your will your own. Find peace of mind in your legal endeavours.