Florida residents who are working on an estate plan may be interested to learn that a woman in Austria destroyed the equivalent of more than $1 million in cash in an effort to disinherit her heirs. However, it is much more difficult to disinherit family in Austria than in the United States, and the country’s central bank has said it will replace the funds the woman destroyed.
Austrian laws distribute the possessions of decedents to their spouse and children if they do not leave a will, and they are required to make provisions for spouses and lineal descendants. They are known as “mandatory heirs.” In contrast, in the United States, individuals are permitted to disinherit their descendants. This can be done in the will itself.
At one time in the United States, omitting children from a will meant that the court assumed they had been forgotten, and the estate would still be distributed among them. As a result, it was necessary to make clear in the will that the children were not to receive any of the assets from the estate.
Making an estate plan can be complex, and individuals may make errors that result in people inheriting assets that were not intended for them or failing to inherit their rightful assets. Failing to keep documents updated is one common error. For example, some people do not update their beneficiaries after a divorce or do not update wills and trusts despite marriages, divorces, births and deaths in the family. People with children from previous relationships may want to take steps to make sure all children receive a fair amount. Individuals may also wish to draw up documents that protect them and their estate in case they become incapacitated. This includes powers of attorney and advance medical directives.