Can I Disinherit My Child?

Can you disinherit your child? A parent can disinherit their children in all states, except Louisiana – but only under limited circumstances.

In Louisiana, you can’t disinherit a child who is 23 or younger, or if the child is permanently incapable of managing their own finances or taking care of themselves at the time of their parent’s death.

Disinheriting a Child Should Be Taken Seriously

In many ways, Hollywood has “glamorized” the threat of disinheriting an adult son or daughter, and this can be seen on TV and in film. In real life, the concept of disinheriting a child should be taken very seriously.

Some factors to consider:

  • Don’t threaten to disinherit your child to manipulate them. This is a sad way to get them to act or not act, and you’re trading love for money.
  • Consider controlling an heir’s inheritance with a trust. If you’re worried that your child will blow all of their money on drugs, alcohol, and fast cars, or if you think they’ll lose the incentive to work and contribute to society, consider leaving an inheritance with “strings attached.” You can accomplish this by setting up a trust for the heir’s benefit and you leave the trustee with specific instructions. This can include incentives such as staying drug or alcohol free, working full time, or graduating college.
  • Make your intentions clear. If you decide to disinherit a child, specifically state your intention to disinherit them in the last will and testament or revocable living trust. If you simply fail to mention them, this can lead to a will contest. If they see it in black and white, it will drive the point home.
  • Don’t forget your beneficiary designations. If a lot of assets are tied up in life insurance policies, bank accounts, or retirement accounts, your child can stand to inherit a lot of money through beneficiary designations if you forget to update these documents.

If after careful consideration you decide to disinherit your child, be sure to discuss this process with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure that everything is handled correctly.