Most of our clients would never fathom themselves purposely disinheriting one of their children. However, sometimes, a parent decides to leave one child assets and another one absolutely nothing out of a loving intention.
When advising parents on this issue it, we find it’s worth bringing up to them that any child discovering that he or she was disinherited after the death of the parent will likely be devastated by the news – even if there had been an estrangement or major disagreement between the child and parent.
Addictions, financial troubles and bad marriages
Addictions, financial mismanagement, and choosing a bad spouse are often reasons why you might want to disinherit a child. You are probably worried over what may happen if your child inherits a large amount of money. You may fear that the money will be used to fuel destructive behaviors.
What many parents fail to realize is that with proper estate planning, these dangers can be prevented. If you are looking to leave an inheritance without directly giving a child access to it, creation of a trust to control the heir’s inheritance is the best solution.
The trust provides the trustee specific instructions about how and when distributions can be made to beneficiaries. This can include incentives (i.e., attending college, working at a full-time job, or staying drug and alcohol-free).
One child might be financially successful while another is struggling to support himself, and the inheritance could make a huge difference in his quality of life. Or, there may be a need to disinherit a child in order to shelter assets from that child’s creditors or even a substance or gambling addiction.
A well-drafted trust and the right trustee can help provide for your child and help deal with the consequences of whatever your child is confronted with in life.
Hearts and Politics
The decision to disinherit a child is really a matter of the heart. If this is your wish, then you must work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
There are numerous cases where an individual created a do-it-yourself will that was challenged by a child or grandchild, and the document was later declared invalid by a judge.
It is vitally important that if you choose to disinherit a loved one, your reasons must be explicitly laid out in estate planning documents. It can also be a good idea for you to inform your child of your plans to not leave them any assets, and why you need to take this action. You must make your intentions clear, because seeing it in black and white will drive the point home and discourage a contest to the trust or will.
We hope this information is useful to you and helps you and your families. If you have a specific case or a question, please don’t hesitate to call our office.