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What to do if you plan on disinheriting a child

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Estate Planning

You may have very personal reasons why you want to leave nothing to one of your adult children in your will, but a disinherited child can be angry if they are surprised to learn, upon the reading of your will, that they will receive less than their siblings or nothing at all.

A disinherited child could pursue a will contest, which may mean your final wishes might not be followed. Moreover, will contests can cost everyone involved a great deal of money and heartache. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid this outcome if you plan on disinheriting a child.

Use tools other than your will to pass on property

Your will is not the only way you can pass the property on to a loved one. There are ways that, during your lifetime, you can pass on property without leaving it in a will. They include:

  • Designating someone as co-owner on the deed to the property
  • Designate the property as a “life estate” with a beneficiary
  • Use a living trust, which avoids probate

These are only some ways you can pass property on to your child without having to put it in your will.

Include a no-contest provision in your will

If you do plan on disinheriting a child in your will, you can include a “no contest” clause in the document. The purpose of a “no contest” clause is to establish that if an heir tries to contest your will upon your death, they will not inherit anything.

If you are including a no-contest clause, you may still want to leave something more than a nominal bequest to the child you want to disinherit in your will. Otherwise, they may decide to try their luck with a will contest.

Let your child know why they were disinherited

If you plan on disinheriting your child, you may want to document why you made this decision. A simple two-sentence letter may not suffice. You will want to leave a descriptive memorandum that supplements your will and is signed and notarized.

You will want to make sure to prove your mental capacity in this document by using heirship affidavits and medical records, so your disinherited child cannot claim you disinherited them under coercion or lack of testamentary capacity.

By taking preventative measures, you can see that your wishes for your property will be passed on as you intend.