When a person dies, it is usually a matter of law as to how the Texas estate will pass to the next of kin. All states have specific rules for the passing of real property to a surviving spouse with or without a will. These laws are in place to protect the surviving spouse, and all states make provisions for these property transfers to be managed legally after the death of a spouse (will or no will). But the other aspects of inheritances can be a bit tricky to determine in the end. Such is the case, when someone wants to intentionally disinherit a child as part of their Texas estate plan.
Disinheriting Children Are Marked by Family Dysfunction and Ill-Will
It may seem cruel or mean to some people that a person would actually want to disinherit a child or adult. Just consider it, there is a will and all of the family gets something from the estate, except for one child who is to get nothing. This is the dramatic scene in the movies, where the family is huddled around the attorney reading the will in a somber office. At the end of the document, it is usually spoken with reverence something like this: “And to my good for nothing son Dylan, I leave only one dollar. This will force him to finally understand the value of working harder in life!” Usually though, most disinheritances are not this dramatic and happen all the time. People have personal, business or professional reasons for disinheriting a child. It is fully within their rights to do so as the goal of any complete Texas estate plan is to fully effectuate the wishes of the individual, which includes excluding and including certain people.
When you disinherit a child, you must consider many other related factors:
- If a child is disinherited, it may make for family drama, dysfunction or ill-will within the family unit.
- If there is a will specifically disinheriting a child (adult), this should be clearly specified in any will or trust that you prepare formally. There is the wondering of why this is being done, but no reason need be marked in the legal document, just a very clear intention. You can just state that you are making this an intentional act, to prevent the child or adult from later claiming it was a mistake on your part.
Advise the Child or Adult of Your Final Wishes
Although it may seem unkind, it is definitely better to advise the person who is being disinherited of that fact before you die. This will alert the individual that there will be nothing to expect in the form of an inheritance on your death. It also prevents the drama and surprise when a will is read later after the fact. It may even give the family an opportunity to heal any past hurts or pain, that may be associated with the reasons why you are choosing to disinherit a child in the first place. Given that the passing of a loved one is emotional on its face, the decision to disinherit a child should be decided after careful consideration.
If you have questions about the decision to disinherit a child for personal or business reasons, you want to make sure you are working with a Texas estate planning lawyer to ensure you are doing so correctly.