There are times when a person will want to leave people out of his or her will. If the person is someone who would normally be listed in the line of succession for a person who dies without an estate, the will should explicitly state that the person is being intentionally left out of the will.
The process of disinheriting someone isn't something that most people would take lightly. In fact, this usually only comes after something serious occurs between the decedent and the now-disinherited person. Take the will of comedian Jerry Lewis.
Since the 91-year-old man died of heart failure, his will has been discussed by the media. The will is a public document that anyone can view.
In his will, Mr. Lewis specifically, and "intentionally," excludes six of his sons. He goes a step beyond that and also excludes their descendants from being classified as beneficiaries in the will.
The reason behind the exclusion isn't noted in the will. This doesn't mean that they won't get any of the man's estate. There isn't any way of knowing this for certain, but he might have used trusts to pass along assets to these six people. Since trusts are private, this may never be known.
Making your wishes known in your estate is the entire focus of the documents. Just like Mr. Lewis made it perfectly clear what he wanted, you should do the same. The wording you use in these documents does matter, so make sure that every word accurately conveys what you want to happen. You can also use multiple methods, such as a will and trusts, to get your estate distributed how you want.
Source: Forbes, "Jerry Lewis Disinherited 5 Of His Kids, And Here's Why We Know," Mark Eghrari, Sep. 27, 2017