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Disinheritance: What to Do and What Not to Do

Disinheriting a child can be a difficult choice for parents. However, if this is the intended choice, there are do's and don'ts when disinheriting.

Are you thinking about disinheriting an heir from your estate? Make sure you know what you are doing before tackling this sensitive subject.

Although it is always a painful decision, some parents feel like they have no other choice but to disinherit a child. If that is the choice you want to make, then know that there are good ways to go about doing so and there are bad ways to do it.

Recently, the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, published a list of things to consider when disinheriting in a post titled "Do's and Don'ts When Disinheriting."

Here is the list from that post:

  • Do Consider a Skip Bequest - If the child you wish to disinherit has children, you might want to leave an inheritance for those children (i.e., your grandchildren) directly. If the grandchildren are still minors, you can leave the inheritance in a trust.
  • Do Consider an Incentive Trust - If the reason for wanting to disinherit a child is behavioral, you can use a trust that only gives money to the child for the appropriate behavior.
  • Do Document Your Decision - Leave some type of recording of your decision and why. This will make it more difficult to challenge later on.
  • Don't Neglect to Name the Child in Your Will - If you leave the child's name out of your will completely, the court will assume that you simply made a mistake and redivide your estate to include the child.
  • Don't Rely on a No Contest Clause - Someone who does not stand to inherit under your will is not stopped by a no contest clause from challenging your will.

See an experienced estate planning attorney if you have questions about disinheriting a child. This is not a do-it-yourself project.

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