As much as it was fun to write about Generational Wisdom in 32 Questions, many families have different challenges that are not so heart-warming. For example, there may come a time when a child or grandchild’s behavior warrants their removal from your estate plan. Such a decision normally does not come lightly and the person seeking to make the change has often agonized over the decision for several weeks if not months. When the time arrives to put the change into effect, be sure you are properly guided and all the detail work is completed.
Completely disinheriting a child or grandchild should be reserved for extreme circumstances. If those circumstances exist in your family, it’s critical you take the proper planning steps to not leave your loved ones with a lawsuit (almost guaranteed) or other conflict after you are gone. If you are considering disinheriting a child or grandchild, you should read and take heed.
First, let’s discuss when it is a good idea to disinherit a child or grandchild, and when it is not. Punishing a child or grandchild for lifestyle choices you do not agree with is usually not the best course of action. Instead, consider if it may be time to release your need to control the people you love with your assets and recognize that each person deserves to be accepted and loved for the choices they are making. This can be a difficult decision to make.
If the lifestyle choice is something like a drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, which could be exacerbated by an inheritance, consider creating a trust that would allow your assets to be used for treatment programs, which may even incentivize treatment. We can help you draft appropriate provisions into your trust to address a scenario like this.
If you are considering disinheriting a child or grandchild because you are concerned that they may not make good use of their inheritance, or could possibly lose the inheritance to a future spouse or divorce, we can support you by preparing a special trust that protects the inheritance from future spouses or divorces. This method ensures the legacy stays in your family, no matter what.
If you are considering disinheriting a child or grandchild because they have special needs issues and you want to ensure they qualify for governmental benefits, contact us because we can create workarounds to ensure that your inheritance can be used for their support and they can qualify for governmental benefits.
Finally, if you truly do want to disinherit a child or grandchild, be sure to do it very carefully so as not to create unnecessary family conflict. We do not recommend attempting to do this on your own.
Be sure to document your capacity and that you are making the choice to disinherit based on your own free will, so that the disinherited family member cannot challenge the disinheritance with a claim that you were suffering from incapacity or duress.
After you’ve made these difficult decisions, make sure you review your estate plan every 1-3 years to ensure your wishes still align with your legal documents. Families are dynamic, so you should refresh your estate plan at regular intervals or after significant changes in your family take place, such as births, deaths, or marriages.
Working with us when considering disinheriting a child or grandchild will ensure you make the wisest decision and that your wishes will be followed when you die. If you are considering this significant decision, meet with us for guidance. A trusted estate planning advisor can help you articulate your wishes and include them in a comprehensive estate plan so your desires—and your beneficiaries—are clear.