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How to approach disinheriting a child carefully

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2022 | Estate Planning

Disinheriting a child drives plots in Hollywood movies and TV shows, but it is a fragile situation in reality. People should approach disinheritance carefully because the situation is a financial and emotional decision. An Arkansas court can overrule a person’s wishes during a will contest, so it’s important to know the proper ways to handle disinheriting a child.

Controlling an heir

During estate planning, people shouldn’t threaten disinheritance to manipulate an heir’s behavior. A person may use the threat to stop a child from doing something they don’t like. Using money to control a person’s behavior rarely works, however.

An option to control an inheritance is creating a living trust. A living trust helps if a person thinks an heir will quickly spend their inheritance. A trustee can give allowances to pay bills and buy things, and there are usually specific instructions on what heirs may buy.

Make intentions clear

A person needs to make their intentions clear when disinheriting a child during estate planning. It’s important to never leave their name out of the will completely. The will should explain the reasoning for the disinheritance. Hearing the reason may discourage a will contest. There should be copies of the decision as proof that the heir knows the reason. A person doesn’t want to be overly clear either; circumstances that the will cites may change by the time of the reading. The heir would then have grounds for a will contest in court.

A no-contest clause may help after disinheritance. Some states allow beneficiary punishment after a failed will contest, so an heir can lose their inheritance if they lose a will contest in court.

To show that a child wasn’t left out, parents may leave a token gift. A child who gets nothing in a will can still challenge the decision. It’s important to always check and update beneficiary designations after any changes in estate planning. Sometimes a disinherited child is still in an insurance policy.