Can a Child be Excluded from an Inheritance?
Family schisms are far more common today than most people realize.
In light of that, we are often asked whether a person can prevent a child from inheriting part of an estate when that person passes away.
The answer is “absolutely.” A couple of simple steps will bring this about:
First, in the Will there needs to be at least a passing mention of the child’s name. This usually occurs in a section that lists the names of all of the living children of the person making the Will.
Second, in the provisions that list the names of the person who are to inherit the person’s property and possessions, the failure to include the name of the child who is not to receive any property will effectively exclude that child from the inheritance.
But, to be effective, both of these steps must be included.
If a person is concerned that there may be a legal dispute arising from the exclusion of a child, a couple of additional steps may be taken:
First, the Will can (and always should) include a no-contest provision. That is a simple statement that any person who seeks to contest the Will is not to receive any of the property of the estate under any circumstances.
Second, a statement to the effect that, “If I left you out of my Will, I left you out on purpose” will make it even more difficult to have the Will overturned.
And in circumstances where parents fear that the excluded child will file a lawsuit to have the Will overturned, they can go a step further and specifically name that child as being intentionally excluded from inheriting the property and possessions of the parents.
If these steps are taken, they will ensure that the wishes of the parents are followed when they pass away.