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Disinheriting A Child From Your Will…

Disinheriting A Child From Your Will…


               A common misconception in estate planning is that you cannot disinherit a child from your will.  This is not true.  Unlike a spouse, who must receive at least part of your estate absent a prenuptial agreement, a child has not such protection.

There are many reasons why children are disinherited including estrangement, fear of waste, alcohol / gambling / drug addiction, lack of support from the child, abuse by the child, criminal history and prior financial support.  I once had a client disinherit their son because he robbed him.

If you are thinking about disinheriting a child from your will, there are a few considerations to think about.

The Disinheritance Must Be Clear In Your Last Will and Testament

The inheritance attorney Wentzville, Missouri will draft the document so it makes it clear at the beginning that you list your children by name, including the disinherited child.  Then in the estate distribution language portion of the document, it must be made clear that you wish to disinherit the child by name.

Make Sure Your Beneficiary Designations Are Also Changed

Often people will have a transfer on death beneficiary designation on an asset like a car.  Remember that if you left, for example, a car equally to your son and daughter, then decided to disinherit the daughter, the car is controlled by the beneficiary designation, i.e. you’d also have to remove daughter from the beneficiary designation for the car.  The simple fact that you changed the will is not sufficient.

Consider Using A Trust Instead

Often people wish to disinherit a child because they are a spendthrift and it’s assumed that any money left in a will would end up being wasted by the problem child if they were to inherit.  In such a case, a trust should be considered because you can leave money to the problem child in the trust, to be managed by another party after you pass away.  A spendthrift trust attorney St. Peters, Missouri can provide further details, but the trust can be set up so that the problem child only receives money if they avoid drug and alcohol problems, graduate from college or stay out of trouble.  This “stick and carrot” approach can be win-win for your wishes and the child and should be considered in such circumstances.

Disinheritance Is Sometimes A Practical Reality

In cases where a person has a child that they never had a relationship with, it’s important that the child be mentioned in the person’s will and still disinherited, especially in the case where the person has a new family with children that he does have a relationship with and who he or she really wants to inherit from them.

Disinheriting a child from your will is a difficult thing to do, but often necessary.  You do have options.  Consider alternative options and remember…it’s your money.

You Don’t Need To Cite The Reason For Disinheritance

In most cases I recommend that a client not explain in the document why a child is being disinherited.  I have had clients insist that the information be included, but again I believe the best practice is to not do so.