If you’re child has problems, has become the black sheep of the family, or has other issues, you may think about disinheriting him. However, disinheritance has life-long affects on this child, his siblings, his children (your grandchildren), your spouse, and your family as a whole. You may not realize it, but disinheritance is a shocking and earth-shattering measure. After all, money equals love in our psyches; and, your entire family may be pulled apart.
Have you been thinking that you need to disinherit a special needs beneficiary because he is receiving governmental assistance? You’re right that an outright inheritance will likely disqualify him and your assets will go down the drain; however, an inheritance in a special needs trust will not disqualify him. Your assets can be used to pay for things above and beyond what the trust would pay for.
Have you been thinking that you should disinherit your drug (gambling, alcohol, sex, etc.) addicted child? You’re right to worry because an outright inheritance could make the addictive problem worse or even kill him. Instead, pass assets to a trust for the benefit of your child; name an independent professional trustee who can distribute assets to help, but not hurt, your beneficiary.
Are you concerned that your daughter’s no good husband or your son’s greedy wife will get his or her hands on your assets if you pass them along. With divorce rates at 50%, you have a right to be concerned. However, you can pass assets in a protected trust that is accessible only for your child’s needs, not a spouse’s. If the spouse isn’t good to your child, he or she gets nothing.
If your child is estranged and you have no contact, it’s understandable that you may consider disinheritance; however, realize that this will have a life-long effect on your child and all of his relationships, including those with his siblings, children (your grandchildren), and your spouse.
If you’re going to go ahead with the disinheritance, tell your child during your lifetime and explain why. Sometimes the relationship is healed because the lines of communication are opened and because the child gets a financial wake-up call.
In other cases, your child will know why you’re making the disinheritance decision and know that it’s your decision, not his siblings’ decision.
There are many alternatives and you may not have to disinherit a child. If you are being challenged by one of your children, consult a qualified estate planning attorney.
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