Most people in Manchester who are working out their estate plan divide their estate evenly between their children. But you are not required to give your heirs equal portions of your wealth. Many people have reasons to leave less to one of their children — or to disinherit them entirely.
This is not a decision to make lightly. Finding out that your mother or father left you nothing in their will can be devastating. You should only exclude a child from your estate plan if you are convinced it is your only option.
Some parents have a very good reason to leave one of their children less than the others or nothing at all. Three common reasons not to leave children equal inheritances include:
- Estrangement. You and your adult child have lost touch and have not had a meaningful relationship in years. Meanwhile, there are other individuals or causes you would rather leave your money to.
- Addiction. The child is struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling, and you are afraid any inheritance they receive would only feed their problem.
- Differing needs. One of your children might be disabled and unable to support themselves. You might decide that they need the inheritance more than their siblings. Conversely, a child with a high income and considerable wealth might not benefit from a large inheritance as much as a sibling who is struggling to make ends meet.
If you wish to disinherit one of your children, you must make that decision clear in your will. Simply not mentioning them in your will or trust is not enough. The disinherited child could claim in probate court that you “forgot” to include them. Explicitly stating that they inherit nothing (or receive a small token inheritance) makes your final wishes clear. You might also consider informing your family of your decision so that nobody will be surprised when the time comes.