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Familial relationships are some of the most complicated out there. As such, having a strained or estranged relationship with your child can be challenging. If you’ve considered disinheriting your child, you’ll want to keep reading to learn the many implications of this choice. The following blog can help you learn more about why many people choose to do this and discover how a Washtenaw County estate planning attorney can assist you during this process.

What Are Common Reasons People Disinherit Their Children?

Though it may seem surprising, there are a number of reasons people choose to disinherit their children.

One of the most common is because they have an estranged relationship. Many parents disagree with their children’s choices when they become adults, making communication difficult. It’s common for parents who have not spoken to their children in years to write them out of a will.

Another reason is that parents of special needs children fear that leaving them an inheritance will impact their qualifications for government assistance programs.

Also, if a parent has many children and one is considerably more successful than the others, they may not include them in the will to give greater support to their other children. Many do this in an attempt to be fair towards the rest of their family.

Finally, if someone has a child who suffers from addiction, parents fear leaving them large sums of money will only enable this behavior. As such, they choose to leave them with nothing in hopes to suppress their addiction.

Are There Any Alternatives?

If your child has special needs, you can leave them money while ensuring they qualify for benefits. You can leave your child’s assets in a special needs fund. This holds assets for someone with special needs to help supplement their lifestyle. As such, this will not place your child over the limit for government benefits.

For children with addiction or who have more assets than other children, creating trust may be a better alternative. If you still want to care for your children without enabling them, you may place assets in a trust. This allows the trustee to provide funds for your child, such as paying for medical expenses or other predicaments, without giving them unbridled access. If your child is more successful, leaving them a small fund for emergencies is also an option, as this can help should they fall on hard times.

I’m Disinheriting My Child. How Do I Proceed?

If you’ve made your decision and want to disinherit your child, it’s necessary to consider how to proceed.

Unfortunately, many make mistakes that leave their disinherited children eligible to fight the terms of the will. One of the most common is gifting a symbolic $1 to their estranged child. This opens the door and gives your child rights as a beneficiary, meaning they can stall the estate administration process, hindering your other beneficiaries from receiving their inheritance. Similarly, simply omitting your child from the will is not enough to legally disinherit them.

When disinheriting a child, you must include them in the will but explicitly state that they will not receive anything from your estate upon your death. You should also clarify whether or not you want to exclude their children.

This can be a complex process, especially if you want to exclude a child already included in your will. As such it’s essential to enlist the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate these complicated situations. At Collis, Griffor & Hendra, we have the experience necessary to help you through these challenging times. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

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