Plenty of people have rocky relationships with their families, but few believe they’ll ever be disinherited. Whether you’re an adult child wondering why your parent failed to leave you an inheritance, or a parent hoping to prevent your estranged kids from contesting your will, understanding why someone would disinherit a child is complicated; our estate planning lawyers can provide clarity.
Why Disinherit a Child?
Children are disinherited every day. Why?
Some parents don’t trust their child to manage an inheritance properly. If that’s the case in your family, it’s worth talking to an estate planning attorney about your options. Trusts can be created that allow the trustee to parcel out the inheritance as directed.
In other cases, the child might be disinherited because of personal disagreements, estrangements, or simply believing that their child’s siblings need an inheritance more. In rare cases—usually those where a parent writes their own will—a parent might simply forget to mention their adult children.
How to Disinherit an Adult Child with an Estate Planning Lawyer
If you’re certain you wish to disinherit your child, it’s wise to consult with an attorney first. When writing your will, you must make clear your intent to leave your child(ren) out. You need to be specific, or else your child can contest the will. State courts can assume testators mistakenly left their children out, therefore, they may still be awarded a portion of the estate.
While you should be clear in your intent to disinherit, there’s no need to air all your grievances in the will. First, it’s not necessary to achieve your goals. Second, a court may review those grievances and decide they no longer apply. For example, if you wrote that you’re intentionally disinheriting your son Alan because his wife is only after your money, but Alan is divorced when you die, the court may decide that reasoning no longer applies. This is why some parents leave their children one dollar: it shows the choice was intentional. You can also use a clause that provides that if a beneficiary contests a will or trust, that beneficiary is disinherited. An attorney will help you with appropriate language so your will holds up in court.
What Can I Do if I Was Disinherited?
If your parents disinherited you unexpectedly, your best option is to contact an attorney. Depending on the individual circumstances, they may be able to help you contest the will. While there’s no guarantee that anyone will inherit their parents’ estate, the snub may have been unintentional.
Call the estate planning lawyers at Dworken & Bernstein today.