By Patrick J. Kelleher, Esq. ELDERLAWCARE.COM
Most parents choose to treat their children equally when it comes to inheriting property or money. But sometimes parents intentionally choose not to leave anything to a child, and the reasons for doing so may vary. One reason could be that one child is more financially successful than the others, and the parent doesn’t feel it’s necessary to leave anything.
Another reason may be a desire to prevent a child with special needs from losing government benefits. Or a parent may not want to leave an inheritance to an irresponsible or drug-dependent child for fear the inheritance will be wasted.
Regardless of the reason, disinheriting a child can negatively affect that child’s relationship with his or her siblings. The courts are full of siblings who sue each other over inheritances, but even if they don’t sue, it is highly unlikely they will be a close family unit. Money aside, there is symbolic meaning to receiving something from a parent’s estate.
Disinheriting a child for what may seem to be a valid reason may actually be completely unnecessary. For example:
How we choose to include our children in our estate plans has lasting effects, both positive and negative. Choosing not to disinherit a child who has caused grief and heartache sends a message of love and forgiveness, while disinheriting a child, even for what seems to be good cause, can convey a lack of love, and indicate anger and resentment.
If you have previously disinherited a child and you have since reconciled, update your plan immediately. If you wish to disinherit a child, it may be wise to tell that child and explain the reasons why. Doing so may help deter the child from blaming siblings later and may prevent a costly court battle.
Regardless of your desires about how you want to leave an inheritance to your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones, we can help. Give us a call to schedule time for a private conversation about your wishes, and we will make sure they are properly documented.
To learn more, watch our next free educational virtual on-demand estate planning and elder law webinar at www.elderlawcare.com.
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About the Author. Patrick Kelleher is an author and Estate Planning & Elder Law attorney and founder of the Elder Law Care Learning Center in Hanover, Massachusetts. Patrick has been teaching free educational workshops for over 10 years at his learning center and in surrounding communities. Learn more at elderlawcare.com or follow Patrick Kelleher on Facebook because you will learn a lot! Offices in Hanover and Quincy. You can find Patrick’s new book “How to Avoid the Four Headed Monster” of Estate Planning & Elder Law on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/How-Avoid-Four-Headed-Monster-Financial-ebook/dp/B084MB96SK