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What should I know before disinheriting a child from my will?

Disinheriting a child is a matter that should be taken very seriously. It usually occurs when a child has been provided financial support in the long term, perhaps at the expense of other children and family members. Emotional factors may also come into play, especially if parent and child have experienced a serious falling out. No matter the underlying reason, The Balance recommends keeping the following factors in mind if you're considering disinheritance. 

Firstly, you should realize that there are other options that give you greater control over the way your assets are dispersed. You might be concerned about providing a large influx of money to an heir with financial issues or addiction struggles. In this case, a trust can be beneficial, as trusts allow you to set certain criteria before your heir can receive assets. You might mandate that your child need to secure full-time employment or undergo drug treatment before being privy to an inheritance. When creating a trust, it's best to have an attorney's assistance to ensure you're compliant with the law. 

If you decide to move forward with the disinheritance, make sure your reasons are clearly stated within estate planning documents. You want to lessen the chance that the heir will contest the will, which can be an emotional, drawn-out process for all involved. Simply not including a person's name is not enough, as the argument could be made that you omitted your child in error. 

In the same token, check that your beneficiary designations have been updated to reflect your most current wishes. If you disinherit a child from your estate plan but fail to update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies or retirement accounts, this information will actually supersede whatever is contained within your will. It's a good idea to look over beneficiary designations every few years or so to determine whether they continue to meet your needs. 

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