Disinheriting a child is not something to be taken lightly. Parents must enter into the decision fully informed to prevent serious legal battles after they’re gone. Removing a child from one’s will can also have lasting effects on a person’s relationship, which is why The Balance recommends the following tips.
Some parents use the threat of disinheritance to get their adult child to behave in a certain way. In most cases, these attempts backfire and result in ruining the parent-child relationship for life. Taking a child out of your will shouldn’t be used as a scare tactic, and it’s likely that your adult child will simply shut down and refuse to have a relationship with you out of spite. If you’re concerned about your child’s lifestyle and its possible impact on health and well-being, consider creating a trust.
A trust is a great estate planning tool that can help you set terms for a child’s inheritance. As an example, consider how difficult it would be to leave money to a child with active drug addiction. In this example, a parent might not want to leave a child of the will, but might have concerns about the impact a large sum of money can have on the life of a drug addict. A trust gives you the ability to establish criteria that your child will need to meet, such as attending drug treatment, before he or she receives the money. You can also give authority to another person to re-inherit the child at a later date should the situation change.
Of course, some parents will still feel the need to remove a child from a will. If so, make sure the removal is clearly stated in plain language within estate planning documents. Not including your child could be grounds for a will contest, which is a long and protracted legal battle that can cost your estate. You also want to make sure that any disinherited children are removed as beneficiaries on life insurance policies or retirement accounts, or they could end up with the proceeds.