Estate planning can be a difficult process. It requires that people think about the end of their lives and what will happen if they go into a nursing home. It also requires reflection on your financial assets and the relationships you have with your family members.
Some people inevitably reach the difficult conclusion that leaving an inheritance for one or more of their children would be a mistake. If you have assets to leave behind but plan to disinherit a child, there are certain steps that can help protect your intended legacy.
Revisit or write your estate planning documents and attach a letter
Your will or possibly a trust will list specific beneficiaries and what assets you want them to receive. When you decide to disinherit a family member, it is not enough to just omit their name from your documents.
Listing all of your children and then specifically indicating that you do not want any property to pass to one of them by name will be important. Otherwise, the person you disinherit could challenge your wishes by claiming you simply forgot to include them. Attaching a letter explaining the reasoning why you disinherited them will make it easier for the courts or your executor to enforce your decision.
Why you need to tell your family
The chances are good that at least the person you disinherit, if not other members of your family, will take issue with your decision. If they only find out about it after you died, the shock of that discovery might lead to protracted litigation in probate court.
Making sure everyone in your family knows your intentions now will reduce the likelihood of a challenge than later and will ensure that the rest of your family understands the reasoning behind this difficult decision. Thinking ahead to the possible conflicts that could arise from your estate plan can help you ensure that you take the right steps to establish your legacy.