If you’re thinking about disinheriting an adult child, you’re not alone. You have plenty of company. It is common for parents to want to disinherit adult children because the child engages in criminal behavior, because the child has a substance abuse problem, or simply because the parent and child have had a falling out.
If you recently had a fight with your son or daughter and now you’re thinking about writing them out of the will, you’ll want to pause and think long and hard before you make a decision that can have a significant impact on your family after you pass away. You see, if a parent isn’t careful in their approach to disinheriting a child, it can prompt a will contest and a probate court can overrule their wishes.
If you’re serious about disinheriting your child, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. If your child is under the age of 18, it’s nearly impossible for you to disinherit your minor child in Ohio, as is the case in all 50 states. That’s because nationwide, probate courts provide for a decedent’s minor child from their estate until the child becomes a legal adult at age 18.
Your Intentions Need to Be Clear
If you want to disinherit a child, the best thing for you to do is make your intentions clear in your estate planning documents, crystal clear. Don’t simply leave them out of your last will and testament, as that’s a surefire way to open the door to a will contest.
If you don’t want your child to receive anything from your estate, you want to specifically state your intention to disinherit him or her. If your child sees it in black and white, it should help drive the point home and it may prevent a will contest on the grounds that the disinheritance was an accident.
The probate courts don’t know the intentions of the deceased, so when someone leaves a child out of a will, they often assume it was an oversight. If you don’t make your intentions clear, the court could award a portion of your estate to your son or daughter and in effect, your hard-earned money will not be distributed according to your wishes.