There may be many different reasons you might want to disinherit an adult child.
You may simply feel like your child has enough assets and money already, so you want to put yours to better use. You may have given them their share of your estate in advance, to support a business venture or help them buy a home. You may just be estranged (since biological ties don’t guarantee a warm relationship between anybody, not even parent and child).
Whatever the reason you want to disinherit your adult child, the real question is how you can do so effectively.
You don’t have to make an adult child a beneficiary
Generally speaking, your child may be your natural heir, but that doesn’t mean you have to make them a beneficiary of your estate. You can effectively disinherit any of your children simply by excluding them from your will – although it’s often wisest to make it clear that you are doing so intentionally, and that the omission isn’t a mere oversight or clerical mistake.
Unfortunately, even if you go that route, your child may decide to contest the will based on the assertion that you would never have taken that action of your own free will and that your estate plan is defective for some reason. They may or may not be successful, but it’s bound to tie up your estate and prevent it from being settled for a while.
What are some other options? Sometimes, parents will leave an adult child a small (but enticing) share of the estate along with an “in terrorem” clause. Also known as a “no contest” clause, this is a statement that makes the inheritance contingent upon the named child’s acceptance of your estate plan. If they choose to file suit against the estate to get a bigger share and lose, they get nothing at all.
Another potential option is to use a trust or trusts to secure your assets. With careful planning, you can remove many or all of your assets from your estate and put them in a legal vehicle that’s designed to benefit only those people you choose. Although trusts can still be challenged, they enjoy greater privacy and security than a mere will.
When you’re making a big decision about your estate, there may be several options available to accomplish your goals. Leaning on experienced legal guidance can help you understand what will best serve your needs.