Disinheriting a Child

Sometimes parents think they have no other choice but to disinherit one of their children. This decision  can be for many different reasons, such as the child’s criminal behavior, drug use or due to a complete breakdown in the parent-child relationship.

Typically, disinheriting a child is not something people undertake lightly. To make sure they do not disinherit a loved one unintentionally, estate law has developed to make it more difficult to disinherit a child. The rules vary by state, but recently the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog shared some tips in “How to disinherit a child: 5 tips to do so successfully,” including:

  • Hire an attorney to make sure that you follow the appropriate laws in your state.
  • Make sure that there is a paper trail available for your executor or trustee that establishes the reason for your decision and provides some evidence for it.
  • You might not want to be too specific about your reasoning for disinheriting the child, unless it is required by the laws of your state. In some states, if the child can prove that the reason is factually incorrect, then they can still claim a portion of the estate.
  • Consider whether you want to tell the child before you pass away. Sometimes, it is best not to leave them surprised. However, often times, telling a child that he’s being disinherited can create additional problems.
  • Instead of disinheriting a child, it might be better to give him or her a small inheritance and include a no-contest clause in your will. This is something an attorney can help you assess, based on the laws in your state. This provides an incentive not to challenge the plan.
  • Ultimately, a properly prepared estate plan will effectively disinherit a child you have chosen not to include.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (June 26, 2018) “How to disinherit a Child: 5 Tips to do so Successfully.”

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