When your last living parent passes away and your family goes over the estate plan, you feel shocked to find out that you got nothing at all. Your siblings did. So did extended family members, like your nieces, nephews and cousins. But you got completely disinherited and cut out of the will.
Some people know this is coming before it happens. Many others, like you, find themselves shocked and surprised. The first question you may ask is how this could have happened? A few common reasons include:
- You have more money and assets than everyone else in your family. Your parent did not leave you anything simply because they knew that you, unlike the rest of your family, did not need anything. They wanted to help people as much as possible with the assets that they had.
- You and your parent became estranged over the years. You stopped speaking and writing. You never got together for family events. Maybe one single event triggered this, like an argument about your lifestyle. Maybe it just happened slowly as your lives drifted apart.
- Your parent meant to update the estate plan and never got a chance to do so. They passed away before they got around to it. This is an issue, for example, with parents and children who have a falling out and then reconcile. If the parent cut you out of the will after the falling out and forgot to add you back in, you still get nothing.
- Someone else used their influence to change the will. Maybe you were never around that much, so your siblings talked to your parent and got them to take away your inheritance.
- Maybe someone else created a new will and tricked your parent into signing. Was your parent dealing with dementia or other degenerative brain diseases? Perhaps someone decided to take advantage of that to get them to a sign a new will, even though your parent had no idea what they were signing at the time.
These are just a handful of examples, but they do help to show you how complex this situation can be. The options you have to contest the decision may come down to exactly how that decision was made.
For instance, if your siblings created a fake will and tricked your parent into signing it, that's fraud. You could contest the will on those grounds.
No matter what happened, the key is to make sure you understand all of the legal steps you can take, the rights you have in Washington and how to get through this difficult time.