Despite what we would all like to believe, it is not uncommon for one or both parents to be estranged from a child. As the saying goes, you cannot choose your family. Sometimes people simply don’t get along, and that can breed more problems that eat away at the family tree.
When it comes time to create or update an estate plan, some parents question just how to handle their estranged child in their documents. Here are some considerations.
Navigating estrangement and inheritance
- Mediation. You have likely considered mediation or some form of family counseling, you may have even tried it in the past. Before making any decisions about inheritance, it is wise to work with a trained counselor.
- Partial inheritance. Some parents decide that dividing an inheritance equally among beneficiaries is unfair. In those cases, an inheritance can be divided however you see fit. If one beneficiary will receive less, it is important to include the proper “no contest” language.
- Total inheritance. Despite best efforts, reconciliation is not always possible. Still, some parents will choose to leave the estranged child in the will, in equal amounts to avoid creating problems for loved ones left behind.
- Total disinheritance. A decision to disinherit a child over the age of eighteen is within your rights. However, it requires finesse. The ramifications of such a drastic decision can often be felt for generations. An attorney well-versed in estate planning can help you walk through the common obstacles and help you move on.
Estate planning is all about your protecting loved ones. Sometimes, the people you love need protecting from themselves. Sometimes the people that you love need protecting from your estranged child. Regardless of circumstances, the decision of who to include in your estate plan is up to you. Remember that there is always someone here to help.