Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Ability to Choose who Inherits Your Assets

Question: Do I have the ability to choose who inherits my assets and whether or not to disinherit my family?

Answer: In general, you do have the ability to determine who inherits your property and, except in certain limited circumstances, you can choose to disinherit your family. The United States is what is referred to as a ‘common law’ country that gives people the right to disinherit most family members. However, there are a number of countries around the world that have laws that force many aspects of inheritance even against one’s wishes. Comment: Many nations, particularly civil law and Islamic countries have what is called forced heirship laws which come in a variety of forms. Forced heirship refers to the idea that an individual cannot direct where his property will pass at death because these laws trump a Will or other legal document. Countries such as France, Germany, Mexico, Italy and Russia, among others, have some aspect of forced heirship laws in place. People living in the United States but who have property in these countries need to understand the law of that nation in order to know how such laws will affect their estate. If you have any questions or would like more information please contact Steve Shane at: | 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Head Shot for webSteve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.   You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.