Left Out or a Token Amount is Evidence of?

A will gives some children significant cash or real estate. Other children are given a dollar or some other token amount. Is that evidence the testator was “on the outs” with the children to whom a token amount was given? Not necessarily. It could easily have been that those children had already received their share and the token amount was included just so they could not later claim they had been forgotten. A token amount, particularly without any independent information suggesting the “falling out” between the testator and the heir in question, does not always suggest their had been a disagreement between the parties in question.

Children can be omitted for the same reason (they’ve already gotten theirs). Typically though, if there are children to whom a token amount is given, all the children are listed. Typically–there are going to be exceptions.

Sometimes a testator may indicate they have reasons for giving a certain child no money. Depending upon the time period and local laws in effect, the testator may put a specific child’s share in a trust–as my great-grandmother did for just one of her seven children in 1939.

Sometimes a dollar is sending the message–you already received something and this is to indicate I did not forget that. Sometimes a dollar is sending the message–you really irritated me, you cannot handle money, etc. In some cases, it is possible that court, newspaper, or other records may indicate if there was potentially some falling out between the individuals in question.