For some, creating an estate plan is a way of dividing assets to ensure every heir receives a fair and equal share. Many plan their estates this way because they feel their children are deserving, and others simply want to prevent disputes and hard feelings among their children after they are gone. However, you may be among another group who have certain people in your life with whom you do not want to share your estate.
If this includes a child, it is likely a painful decision, but you may be considering disinheriting him or her. The problem with leaving your child out of your estate plan is that it can quickly lead to probate litigation, especially if the child contests whether your omission was a mistake or the result of your failing mental capacities. If you are serious about disinheriting a child, there are some factors you will want to consider.
Make your wishes plain
It is important to keep in mind that your decision to disinherit your child must appear to others as a reasonable, rational choice. It cannot seem as if you were in a fit of rage, that you were holding a grudge for an incident that happened decades ago, that you were not in your right mind when you wrote your will or that you simply omitted one child as an oversight. Some ways to avoid confusion over your choice to disinherit a child include the following:
- Document your decision and the reasons behind it, and include that documentation with your will.
- Make your reasons for omitting your child simple and clear without giving so much information that others may contest certain details of your explanation.
- Make sure that the reasons for which you are disinheriting your child are still valid, such as your child’s marriage to someone you do not trust or your child’s spending habits that he or she has corrected.
- Consider leaving a smaller portion to the child instead of disinheriting to avoid the appearance that you forgot to include the child.
- Investigate Minnesota’s laws for including a no-contest clause in your will that rescinds the inheritance of anyone who unsuccessfully contests your estate plan.
If your decision to disinherit a child is the result of that child’s behavior or bad habits, such as a drug or gambling problem, using a trust may be a smart way to provide an inheritance that is less likely to contribute to the problem. Additionally, it is always smart to get legal advice for making your estate plan as solid as possible.