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Disinheriting a Child

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

Since a disinheritance is not something people normally undertake lightly and to make sure that they do not disinherit unintentionally, estate law has developed to not make it easy 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 elder law 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 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, at times, telling a child that he’s being disinherited can cause more 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.

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

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