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Can you disinherit your child?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Estate Planning

As a parent making your estate plan brings extra responsibilities, you need to name a guardian to raise your children if you pass away before they become adults and think about how your assets can help pay for their upbringing.

Yet, what if your children are already adults? Are you obligated to leave them an inheritance? Louisiana is the only state that obligates you to leave your children something, so in New York, you are free to leave your child nothing if that’s what you prefer.

Why might you consider this?

It’s not the sort of decision you would take lightly. Yet people sometimes feel it is the correct one, for reasons including:

  • They want their children to learn to stand on their own two feet.
  • They are scared a sudden influx of wealth would leave the child susceptible to dangerous influences.
  • The child has drug issues and the parent fears they would squander the money, doing themselves more harm.
  • They have had a major falling out and do not feel the child deserves their money.

Disinheriting a child is a drastic solution, so remember there are usually alternatives. For example, if drugs are the issue, you could put the money in a trust so that it is available to the child if and when they turn their life around.

If you do wish to disinherit, how should you do it?

You can expect anyone you disinherit to try to challenge your will in court. To reduce the chance they succeed, make it clear in your will that you have chosen to leave them nothing, perhaps giving the reasons. If you just omit all mention of them, a court might think you forgot to include them. Also consider telling the person now, to avoid them causing problems for those who will inherit. There is guidance available to find out more.