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Disinheriting a Child in an Estate Plan

What if I Leave my Child Out of my Will?

Parents have different reasons for disinheriting a child in their Last Will and Testament.  Sometimes parents believe it is in  the child’s best interest to not receive an inheritance or perhaps a parent knows the asset will be wasted rather than put toward something important.

Laws Protect Unintentionally Disinheriting Children

Estate laws assume that parents do want to leave something to their children though and the laws are written to protect a child who might be unintentionally left out of a parent’s will.  If a child is not mentioned in a will document, the court may assume there was a mistake and the court can provide some portion of the estate assets to the child (or equally among children).  In order to assure that the court understands a parent is intentionally not including a child under a will, the will document should expressly state that the child exists and the child is intentionally not receiving any estate assets from the parent’s estate.

Name the Child in Your Estate Plan

Some parents suggest leaving a small amount of money to make sure the child and the court understand that there is no mistake. For example a parent might leave a child one dollar just to make sure the court knows the disinheritance is intentional.  This can create a lot of unnecessary paperwork for the personal representative though who is responsible for distributing assets according to the will and closing the estate.  Typically the parent should name the child in the will and simply state the child is to receive nothing.  A parent may choose to leave an explanation of the decision or may simply leave it unexplained.

Get Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman will help you create a plan that protects your assets, your goals, and your loved ones. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.


Posted in: Estate Planning, New York Estate Planning