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What Issues are Raised When an Inheritance Passes Outside the Family?

Anytime a person not related by blood is named as a beneficiary, lawsuits are a possibility.

Anytime a person not related by blood is named as a beneficiary, lawsuits are a possibility.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people can be selfish and dishonest.

The result?

Whether you are receiving or giving assets to a non-relative, you must be cautious, very cautious.

This topic was taken up by the New Hampshire Magazine in an article titled “Navigating Non-Relative Inheritance.”

So, what is one of the biggest concerns?

Elder abuse.

And elder financial exploitation is on the rise.

Consequently, you must do everything possible to protect yourself and your senior loved ones from predators or opportunists.

Even if the beneficiary has pure motives, an estate could still be in trouble.


By naming an individual other than a natural heir as a beneficiary you can raise suspicions at best and trigger anger at worst—especially because assets are typically left to family or a beloved charity.

On the other hand, you must also exercise caution when receiving assets from an estate.

To protect yourself from false accusations and lawsuits, you should be take protective actions.


Remove yourself from suspicious situations and circumstances.

If a person could interpret your actions as selfish or manipulative, they could work against you.

Be sure to have an expert determine and record the capacity of the non-family member wishing to benefit you.

This evidence will be useful in determining the validity of will, trust or other arrangement if (and when) later challenged.

Ultimately, there is a tension between following the wishes of the person choosing to distribute assets to his or her chosen non-family member beneficiary and protecting that same individual from elder exploitation.

The rights of each individual to distribute wealth according to his or her wishes - and to be defended from thieves - must both be taken seriously.

It is shame this is an issue at all.

For advice in preserving your rights and protecting your estate, work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?

First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.

Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").

Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.


Two helpful online resources are just a mouse click away to assist with your due diligence: and

Check any Avvo ratings, client ratings/testimonials and attorney endorsements on and any "peer ratings" by judges/other attorneys and any client ratings/testimonials on

In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.

Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.

For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.

Reference: New Hampshire Magazine (September 2016) “Navigating Non-Relative Inheritance”

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