Part of a parent’s job is to provide for their children. However, as kids get older and start making their own decisions and leading their own lives, they need — or want — less from their parents.

As a result, many parents adjust their wills when children get older. In some cases, this can involve disinheriting a child. If you are considering this, know that there are ways to approach the situation so that you don’t cause animosity or confusion for your loved ones.

Be deliberate

Leaving someone out of a will isn’t always something people do on purpose or after careful consideration. This is why it can often trigger will contests.

To avoid messy legal battles, be deliberate with the decision to disinherit. Note in your will that you are intentionally not providing for someone, rather than leaving it open for interpretation. Further, make this decision when you are mentally fit and with witnesses who can attest to your mental capacity.

Give notice

While it can be uncomfortable to discuss your plans with your loved ones, failing to do so could leave them in shocked and without any opportunity to discuss the situation with you. 

Even if you don’t tell the child you are disinheriting about your decision, tell someone about it, like the executor of your estate. This can ensure someone knows about and can answer questions regarding the decision.

Offer an explanation

People disinherit a child for many reasons. Some do it because they have no relationship with a child; others do it because they don’t feel as though one child needs or will benefit from an inheritance. To avoid ambiguity, explain the decision in your will, to the party you plan to disinherit or to your personal representative.

Consider alternatives

As this article points out, there are alternatives to disinheritance. You might set up a trust to control payouts; you could give a beneficiary the ability to re-inherit the person with power of appointment; you might consider leaving the person family heirlooms instead of money. These can ultimately accomplish your goals without putting loved ones through a dramatic disinheritance.

Disinheriting is not an insignificant decision; with these suggestions, it doesn’t have to be a cruel one, either.