The Implications of Disinheriting a Child

Most parents will chose to leave their estate to each child equally, but in some cases a parent may decide to disinherit a unruly, rebellious, or hurtful child in their wills. You have the legal right to disinherit a child by writing this into your own well. If you die intestate, then your disinherited child will still receive a portion of the money because your estate will go through probate and be divided among surviving children if there is no spouse to inherit the fortune.

There are many reasons why parents may choose to disinherit a child. Maybe one child is more financially successful than the others, and parents don't believe it is fair to give that individual a portion of the money when the other children are struggling to make ends meet. In other circumstances, parents may disinherit a special needs child in order to make sure that he or she is still able to receive government disability benefits (this can often be remedied with a special needs trust so discuss that option with an attorney before disinheriting your child for this reason.)

Also, some parents decide to disinherit their child because he or she is irresponsible with finances, or is addicted to drugs and most of the inheritance money would be spent on this addiction. Parents may believe that they are protecting their child from dangers by disinheriting him or her. As well, there are times that parents will not include a child in the will if he or she is estranged from the family. For example, a daughter who ran away at home at 16 may not be included in the will because she has had no contact with her family since this time.

Other parents may use disinheritance as a way to get vengeance on a child that has hurt them or get the last word. Regardless of the reason, the fact is that most of the time disinheriting a child will be hurtful. There are many court cases where siblings sue each other over inheritances. Even when arguments don't make it to court, disinheritance can often leave families fragmented. Siblings may never talk to each other again after one is left out of a will, especially if siblings encouraged their parents to leave particular family members out of the mix.

Before you decide to disinherit a child, consider the implications of doing so and decide whether or not you want to introduce this tension into your family. If you are considering disinheriting a child who is more successful than the others, you may want to reconsider this option. Your child may have trouble behind the scenes that you don't know about. As well, there may be times in the future when your seemingly successful child could use the inheritance money, such as if his or her marriage collapses. As well, by implication if you disinherit a child you are also disinheriting any grandchildren by that child.

As well, if you are considering disinheriting a financially irresponsible child or a child that has a drug addiction, then you may want to think about other options before cutting that child out of the will. You could set up a trust that will allow your child to get the money in a series of installments, rather than in one lump sum. You may also be able to provide that the money is gifted to your child after completing a financial responsibility course or a rehabilitation program. You can explore these options with a probate professional or an estate planning attorney today for more information.