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Can I Disinherit My Son or Daughter?

Parenting can be complicated, especially when divorce and “parental alienation” have strained a parent-child relationship. If you are wondering if it’s possible to disinherit an adult son or daughter, please understand that you are not the first person to ask and certainly not the last. Much like in disinheriting a spouse, there are some things to keep in mind if you wish to disinherit a child.

“Can I write my adult child out of my will?” Now that your son or daughter is an adult, you are not legally obligated to leave him or her a dime. Even at death, you have one last opportunity to reward those who have touched your heart and penalize those who have failed to earn your trust, honor, and respect.

Suppose your adult son has borrowed thousands of dollars from you over the years and never paid you back. Today, he has a serious substance abuse problem and since you refused to loan him any more money, he hasn’t spoken to you in years. Your daughter, on the other hand, calls you every week and she’s never asked you for any help. She works hard to support her children and has shown you nothing but love and respect. You prefer your daughter to receive the entire share of your estate.

If you want to write your son out of your will, you’ll need to be very clear about it. Since many states protect heirs against “accidental disinheritance,” you want to make sure you clearly state that you are disinheriting your son. Otherwise, he could challenge the will during probate. If your son was a minor under the age of 18, the rules would be different. Generally, parents cannot disinherit minor children; youngsters are protected from disinheritance.

Exercise Caution When Disinheriting an Adult Child

Usually, people disinherit adult children for the following reasons: the child is financially well-off compared to the other children, the child has a substance abuse problem, the child has had a falling out with the parent, or the parent and child don’t have a good relationship.

If you are in the middle of a conflict with your child, we recommend that you don’t disinherit a child until you’ve given it serious consideration; it’s not something you want to do without thinking it over carefully. If you disinherit a child, they may decide to take it out on their siblings by contesting the will, which could harm their relationship after you’re gone.

Looking for an estate planning attorney in Rancho Cucamonga or Mission Viejo, California? If so, contact us to get started!