Disinheriting a Child in Tennessee: What You Should Know First

Posted by John Crow | Nov 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

It is not pleasant to think about disinheriting a child. Its heartbreaking. Its difficult.  But it happens – even in places like Clarksville and Springfield. When you are considering disinheriting a child, understand that it should be done cautiously. The impact of such an action on your relationships can cut deep. Here is an overview of the reasons a parent may choose to disinherit a child in Tennessee and what to consider before doing so.

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Common Reasons to Disinherit a Child in Tennessee

In most cases, when a child is disinherited, something has gone seriously wrong. The most common causes that may prompt a parent to consider disinheriting a child include:

  • Abandonment – Either you or the child fails to keep the relationship going;
  • Abuse – the child may be abusive to you or others, whether it's emotional or physical abuse;
  • Addiction – the child may have an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, and, as such, there's a real fear he or she will use any inheritance to feed the addiction;
  • Poor Behavior – the child may consistently get into trouble with the law or may simply not have the capacity or desire to learn how to manage money, and so there is a real fear the child will waste an inheritance;
  • Favoritism – you simply may favor one child over another and want to reward the child whom you prefer.

Keep in mind that it is typically an adult child whom a parent chooses to disinherit. Apart from the reasons set forth above, there may simply be no real reason but plain dislike for the adult child that causes a parent to want to disinherit him or her.

What to Consider When Disinheriting a Child

If you are thinking of disinheriting a child, tread cautiously and keep the following points in mind:

  • Guilt. You may feel guilty about it. Though the guilt may not be reason enough to prevent the disinheritance, it is something to factor into your own quality of life. 
  • Siblings. If there are siblings and only one child is being disinherited, this can cause deep, unsettling problems between the siblings.
  • Will Contest. The law always assumes you want your estate to go to your surviving family members. As such, you need a will that specifically states a child will not inherit anything. That will also needs to say why you have chosen to disinherit him or her. Keep in mind though, that if not properly worded, it could make the will vulnerable to challenges.
  • Alternatives. There are other ways to address issues you may have with your child short of disinheriting him or her. There are different tools that you can employ to build an estate plan. For example, you can place an inheritance for a child in a trust. In this trust, you can be very specific about how and when money can be used. You can also set forth terms as to how and when the inheritance can be denied if the child fails to fulfill any condition or obligation set by the trust. 

If you already have an estate plan, disinheriting a child now means a thorough review of all your estate documents, including updating all beneficiary designations. If you do not have a plan in place, then finding an experienced estate planning lawyer in Clarksville is key. You want to make sure you are aware of all your options so that you and your attorney can prepare estate documents according to informed decisions. 

The Key Takeaway

Disinheriting a child in Tennessee, Kentucky, or elsewhere is a serious consideration. Make sure you know your reasons to disinherit and all your options, including alternatives. It's your estate and your family, so ultimately it's your decision. Just make sure it's an informed one.

About the Author

John Crow

John Crow is the founder of Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, a boutique law firm located in Clarksville, Tennessee. He has extensive experience in guiding people through the important and often complex decisions surrounding wills, trusts, conservatorships, and business formations.

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