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Excluding a family member in wills

When in the process of estate planning in Georgia, a person is often left making difficult decisions. For some, it is not simply a matter of evenly splitting assets between children. Often, there are complex issues at play that could ultimately impact the creation of wills.

Issues surrounding the will of David Cassidy exemplify some of these complexities. Following his death, it was made public that he had deliberately excluded his biological daughter from his will. When he created the will in 2004, he clearly stated that any references to his children include his son only and do not include his daughter or any of her descendants.

The decision behind this exclusion is unclear. However, he has publicly stated that, while he is her biological father, he did not raise her. The pair reportedly reconciled before his death, but his will was not updated. As a result, the entirety of his $150,000 estate is set to go to his son.

Often, the decision to leave an unequal distribution of assets is not based on an unhappy relationship between family members. For example, a parent in Georgia may leave more assets to a child who is not financially stable. However, leaving explicit instructions, such as left by Cassidy, can ensure that the person's wishes are known, potentially preventing an argument that the exclusion was an oversight. An attorney with experience creating wills and other estate-planning documents can help create plans that clearly express a person's wishes as well as revise previously created plans as a person's situation changes.

Source: Miami Herald, "Why did David Cassidy cut his daughter out of his will?", Madeleine Marr, Dec. 7, 2017

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