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Don’t Forget to Write Formerly Estranged Relatives Back Into Your Will


You know you are old if, when you were a teenager, you had a poster of David Cassidy on the wall of your bedroom.  Like so many child stars, Cassidy grew up to be an adult whose life has the same ups and downs as any other adult’s life does, including several marriages and divorces.  His daughter Katie was born after a brief relationship; he never married Katie’s mother.  Katie grew up with her mother and stepfather, but it was only when she was an adult that she developed a close relationship with him.  The good news is that Cassidy remained close to his daughter for the rest of his life; she was at his bedside when he died.  The bad news is that he never updated his will to include her as a beneficiary.  What could have been a sweet story with a happy ending turned into a legal battle with plenty of stress for Cassidy’s family.  Establishing a relationship with a formerly estranged relative is one of the most underrated reasons to update your will, but it is never too soon to do it, which means that it is never too soon to contact a Washington, D.C. estate planning lawyer.

Being Disinherited by a Family Member That You Thought Forgave You Hurts Twice as Much

Negative emotions tend to motivate people to rewrite their wills more quickly than positive emotions do.  It’s easy to fire up your computer and rewrite your will to disinherit a relative after an argument, or even after the relative makes an insensitive comment on social media, and if you’re still mad by the time you have printed your will and assembled two witnesses, your inconsiderate relative’s inheritance is gone.

You would be surprised how easy it is to procrastinate rewriting your will when things are going well.  If your kids get along with each other for an entire road trip, you don’t think, “I should rewrite my will to reflect that I now have two children, so that they can continue to get along with each other after I die.”  When you get remarried, you don’t think, “I should rewrite my will so that my spouse does not go through an ugly probate battle with my children from my first marriage.”  In both of these cases, you should update your will, but it is easy to procrastinate when you are not feeling acute discomfort.

Likewise, reconciling with a previously estranged relative is beautiful.  If you have a troubled history, then reconnecting with your relative may be a relief to both of you, but you may have lingering doubts about whether all is really forgiven.  The best way to make your reconciliation absolute is to rewrite your will to include the relative with which you have reconciled.  Otherwise, your estate plan will feel like another rejection.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Ewing About Formalizing Your Reconciliation With a Family Member

A Washington, D.C. estate planning attorney can help you write a new version of your will if you have reconciled with a formerly estranged relative.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor, and Ewing in Washington, D.C. or call 202-362-5900.



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