When discussing estate planning manners, most tend to focus on ensuring that assets and property pass as easily and quickly as possible to loved ones. Wills and trusts are primarily used to accomplish the transfer of wealth upon a loved one's death. In some cases, however, these same estate planning vehicles can be used to accomplish the exact opposite.
Known as an iconic hair stylist, Vidal Sassoon rose to fame during the 1960s with his unique and cutting-edge styles. Since his early humble beginnings in London, the late Sassoon amassed a fortune worth roughly $150 million. During the course of his adult life, he also accumulated three ex-wives and four children.
News recently broke of a unique request outlined in the late hair stylist's will. In the will, there is language that explicitly disinherits all three of Vidal's ex-wives. This action is not uncommon. At the time of his death, Sassoon was married to his fourth wife and living in Los Angeles. What is more uncommon is language contained in Vidal's will that also serves to disinherit his 41-year-old son.
Adopted at the age of three by Vidal and his ex-wife, David Sassoon's behavioral problems and troubles with authority were well-documented in his father's 2010 autobiography. Also well-documented was the fact that the father and son had a difficult relationship plagued by conflict and eventually mistrust.
Language explicitly expressed in Vidal Sassoon's will states that David Sassoon is "hereby disinherited" the will goes on to state that to refute survivorship rights David Sassoon "shall be deemed to have predeceased" the elder Sassoon.
Parents who seek to disinherit surviving children must include explicit language stating such. A legal professional can assist in ensuring that language contained in a will is appropriate to avoid future legal battles and will contests.
Source: The Daily Mail, "The £5m cut: Vidal Sassoon leaves adopted son out of will after failing to heal rift before his death," Nick Craven and Andrew Young, March 23, 2013