Time to catch up on some of the questions that readers have sent in.
Q: Is it a good idea to leave $1 to someone that you want to disinherit? If you do that, will that keep them from challenging the will?
A: Keep in mind that except for possibly a spouse, no one is entitled to an inheritance. You can include or not include anyone that you want. That includes children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and parents. Spouses are usually the exception as they have special rights granted under law so you will want to be well advised before leaving out a spouse.
Some attorneys include a $1 distribution to loved ones that are intentionally left out of an estate plan. However, I think it’s less about avoiding a will challenge and more about acknowledging the person and making it clear that they were intentionally left out. Leaving someone a dollar will not eliminate their ability to challenge an estate plan.
When a client wants to leave out someone that would ordinarily be included in a typical estate plan, I also like to acknowledge that fact but I don’t use the dollar provision. Instead I include a provision that acknowledges the person and makes it clear their absence was intentional. Something along the lines “I specifically acknowledge that I have made no provision for my son, John Doe, and that I have done so intentionally and for reasons known only to me." It makes it clear that John isn’t included but doesn’t give too much information as to why.
Q: My dad passed away and I am named the personal representative. Dad lived in South Bend but I live here in Lake County. Where should the will be probated? Can I probate it in Lake County since that is where I live?
A: Probably not. The will is generally probated in the county of residence of the decedent. If your dad lived in South Bend, probate will likely need to be opened in St Joseph County.
The county residence of the personal representative really doesn’t play any role in the location of probate. Another thing that doesn’t generally affect where probate is filed is the location of death. Several of my estates involved a decedent who died in Chicago but lived in Lake County where the will was eventually probated.
Now if you father’s residency was unclear, you might have a better chance of affecting the location of probate. For example, if he owned property in both St. Joseph and Lake counties and he spent time at both, his actual residency might be arguable.
Thanks for the questions.
Opinions are solely the writer's. Christopher W. Yugo is a Crown Point attorney. Address questions to Yugo in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN, 46321 or to email@example.com. Yugo's information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant or estate-planner.