Although you don’t legally need any grounds for leaving a child out of the will, most parents have their reasons. Parents and children are people, life is long and relationships are complicated.
In most states, a competent adult has the right to make a will that leaves their child out of the will. Although the child has the right to sue and try to overturn the will, it’s a valid legal document which will stand unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Disagreements may arise. Both parents and children can have grievances against each other. There may be financial or personal reasons why a parent feels that a child should be left out of the will. Whatever the situation might be, you will need representation by an estate attorney. You can call attorney Albert Goodwin at 212-233-1233 or 718-509-9774 if you need a consultation about your situation where grounds for leaving a child out of the will play a part.
In this article, we will discuss the most common grounds for leaving a child out of the will.
A Child Not Involved With The Parent in Their Later Years
The other children were more involved with the parent. A parent might leave out the children who were not as involved with the parent, especially in the later stages of their life, when the parents needed the help. When parents are younger and more independent, they don’t need the help of their children. As parents get older, they may need a lot of help, or they simply need company and someone to help them out once in a while. A child who is more involved with the parent is the one that often gets a preference in inheritance. Conversely, a child who is not involved with the parent as much may get left out of the will.
The parent feels abandoned by the child. A parent might leave a child out of the will because they feel abandoned by them. It’s possible for a parent to feel abandoned by all of their children.
A child lives closer than the other children. A child who lives closer than another child, especially if a child lives out of state as opposed to in close proximity to the parent. The child who lives closer to the parent sometimes receives better treatment in inheritance because the parent feels that the closer child spends more time with them. The parent bonds more with the child who is closer, may see them and the grandchildren from that child more. That creates a feeling of a better relationship with the parent, which may result in leaving the out-of-state children out of the will.
Emotional Grounds for Leaving a Child Out of the Will
Favoritism – a parent favoring one child over the other. Parents may not admit this, but some of us favor some children over others. A child may have a better temperament. A child may be better in their studies, at sports or at other things that the parent deems important. A child may be more successful in life. A child may be more like the parent. Or less like the parent. There are no precise reasons for favoritism, it’s often a gut feeling. And it’s often there.
Children took a side in a divorce. Parents get divorced and children can take sides. A parent whose side the child did not take can get angry with that child and leave them out of the will.
The parent does not approve of the child’s life or lifestyle choices. Parents may not agree with their children’s choices of religion, sexual orientation like being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual, job, or marriage or life partner, or any other things the parent disapproves of in a child.
A Child is Doing Better Than The Other Child
A child is well off. When a parent has multiple children and some of them are well off and other ones are not, a parent might leave the well-off children out of the will in order to benefit the ones that are not so well-off.
A child already received their inheritance. A parent might feel that they’ve already helped the child enough financially and they can now leave them out of the will in favor of the other children whom they have not helped as much. The idea is that the child received their inheritance in advance. A parent might have helped the child pay for college or even for the grandchildren’s college, help with buying a house, help with starting a business and other financial gifts over the years. A parent might feel that the child already received their inheritance.
The other children need more help. Some children need more help than others. Parents might be inclined to leave inheritance to the children who were not as lucky.
Favoring a disabled child. Parents might feel that a disabled child needs more help than the other children. The parents may create a special needs trust/supplemental needs trust to cover the child’s non-medical expenses.
Not Wanting the Inheritance to Go to Third Parties
Avoiding a child’s creditors. A parent might feel that they don’t want their hard-earned money to go to a child’s creditors. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.
A child’s divorce, spouse, soon to be ex-spouse or partner. A parent might feel that they don’t want their hard-earned money to go to a child’s husband, wife or spouse, whether or not they are in the process of divorce. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.
Medicaid and Government Benefits. A parent may want to preserve a child’s eligibility for government benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Supplemental Income from the Social Security Administration. This is something that can be avoided with a trust.
Communication Grounds for Leaving a Child Out of the Will
Lack of communication, not enough communication or miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings that can result in a child being left out of the will.
Conflict Grounds for Leaving a Child Out of the Will
A parent being upset at a child. A parent being upset at a child can lead to a parent leaving a child out of the will.
Family conflict. A family conflict may cause a fight and leave the parents upset at the children, resulting in a child getting left out of the will.
Breakdown of relationship. A child can hold a grudge against a parent for what happened during their childhood, when they were teenagers, over early and late adulthood.
Practical Grounds for Leaving a Child Out of the Will
The parent does not approve of the child’s spending habits. The parent may feel that the child spends money inappropriately, such as on gambling, risky activities, unneeded expenses, or expenses not deemed appropriate by the parent. The parent may be more conservative than the child and have a different outlook on life.
A child’s issues with drugs or alcohol. A parent may leave a child out of the will due to worries the child will use the money to fuel their drug or alcohol addiction. In situations involving a child’s addiction to drugs or alcohol abuse, it makes more sense to set up a trust for a child, as opposed to outright leave them out of the will. What a trust does is it appoints someone to manage the money for the child, to make sure that the child is taken care of without having them spend money on drugs or alcohol.
A parent may feel that being a younger or older child is a reason to get less inheritance or get left out of the will.
If you would like to get more information on grounds for leaving a child out of the will, you can call wills, trusts and estates attorney Albert Goodwin at 212-233-1233 or 718-509-9774.