Estate planning when you’ve had a falling out with your child

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2020 | Blog

Most parents would probably agree that seeing their children come into their own is a bittersweet experience. Like them, you may miss those times when your child would cuddle up with you on the couch and loved you unconditionally, especially if you now have a strained relationship.

Perhaps, once your child reached adulthood, you could no longer see eye-to-eye. If you had a falling out of some kind, you may not have an estranged relationship. While you may always love your child, you are considering making the tough decision to exclude him or her from your estate planning.

Part of you may still want to leave the door open

If you aren’t sure whether to close the door completely on your relationship with your child, you may be able to take advantage of some alternatives to disinheriting him or her. Perhaps, the reason for your falling out was over an addiction, bad spending habits, or some other behavior or life choice on which you disagree. If you aren’t sure about disinheriting your child, you could create a trust, making your child the beneficiary.

You could then spell out clear instructions for the trustee regarding distributions to your child. You could also make any distributions contingent upon some event, such as getting a college degree, staying free from drugs or alcohol, or sustaining a full-time job. You should know that you cannot restrict distributions because you want your child to marry or divorce, however. You also cannot dictate what religion your child practices.

You are sure you want to disinherit your child

If you have decided that the best course of action for you is to disinherit your child, you need to make your intentions clear. Simply leaving your child out of your will could create a situation where your child’s will, indicating that you accidentally left him or her out of it. You could consult a Las Vegas estate-planning attorney for the appropriate language. You want to make sure your intentions are clear, but you don’t want to be so specific that, at the time of your death, the circumstances no longer apply.

You could also make your decision clear by keeping records of some kind. You could keep a journal, write letters or leave some other notes to make sure no one believes someone coerced you in any way to make this decision. If you still have questions regarding how to handle this issue, you would greatly benefit from discussing it with an attorney before putting anything in writing.