You tried your best as a parent and did all you could to give your children the best in life, but it turns out you really have no control over their decisions when they get older. It can be frustrating and painful as a parent to watch a child turn to drugs, gambling or other destructive behaviors. As you prepare your will or trust and plan for your estate after you die, you may have concerns about your assets and hard-earned money going to a child who may ultimately throw it down the drain. Do you have the option to disinherit your child and leave them out of the will?
Disinheritance has both financial and emotional components. Some people have children who have made bad choices throughout their entire lives, while others are frustrated with a sense of entitlement that seems to come from children or grandchildren. Consider the following before you disinherit any family member.
1. Never use disinheritance as a manipulator
Money may seem like a good motivator when you are trying to get an heir to do or not do something, but it rarely ends well. If they change the behavior for money, it is likely to return quickly before or after you die. You trade respect and love for money when you use disinheritance to manipulate behavior.
2. Your intentions should be made clear
If you make the ultimate choice to disinherit people from your will, simply leaving their names out is not specific enough. In your estate plan, state your specific desires to not leave anything to that person. This discourages the individual from contesting your will and provides a reason for the disinheritance.
3. Check your beneficiaries
If you make a hasty decision to disinherit a child or relative, it is easy to overlook things like retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Once you have made the ultimate decision, make sure that your beneficiary designations are current and all your assets are titled appropriately.
4. Minor children and their limitations
If you have minor children, keep in mind that the courts protect them. Assuming the money or assets are there to care for them, you cannot disinherit them for their care. Children will still have access to the money they are entitled to receive.
5. Set up a solid estate plan
Estate plans need to be legally airtight before you die to minimize confusion and tension once you are gone. If you are concerned about your children or other relatives receiving money you do not believe they should have, you should consult an estate planning attorney immediately.