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Alternatives to disinheriting a child

The decision to disinherit your child is not one that should be made lightly. On the contrary, doing so may have permanent and considerable consequences, so it is important that you carefully weigh the pros and cons of disinheritance before making the official decision to move forward.

Maybe you want to disinherit your child because he or she is estranged from you or addicted to drugs and you fear your hard-earned money will be squandered away. Maybe your child has special needs and you fear any inheritance you leave may affect his or her ability to secure certain government benefits. Regardless of your reasoning for considering disinheriting your child, you may, too, want to consider the following alternative options before doing so:

Establishing a trust with specific conditions

A trust is a legally binding document you can create that would allow for your assets to be distributed in accordance with your wishes by a trusted third party, known as a trustee. A trust offers a variety of benefits, and one of them is a considerable amount of flexibility. For example, if you are concerned about an inheritance getting blown on drugs, gambling or what have you, you can make an inheritance conditional by seeing that your funds are only allocated when specific conditions are met. You may require that your child stay clean for a predetermined amount of time, or that he or she successfully complete a rehabilitation program before funds can be allocated. Note, however, that the conditions dictated in the trust cannot infringe upon your son or daughter’s protected rights, meaning the trust cannot, for example, insist that a beneficiary follow a certain religion or lifestyle.

Giving a trusted family member or friend power of appointment

Giving a trusted friend or family member, such as a spouse or reliable adult child, power of appointment gives them the ability to re-inherit a child you may choose to disinherit, should the need arise after your passing. For example, using the drug addict example, maybe you choose to disinherit your child because of addiction, but he or she then gets clean and stays clean five or 10 years after you pass on. The person you gave power of appointment can make the call as to whether your child should again be listed as a beneficiary based on discussions the two of you had prior to your death. Should you decide to go this route, however, try and make sure the person who is being given power of appointment is also someone who is going to outlive you.

The decision to disinherit a child is a serious one, and it often has far-reaching implications. To discuss your specific situation, consider getting in touch with an attorney.