Family Estrangement And Your Estate Plan In Central Florida
No one can identify exactly what went wrong over the years. What is for certain is that you have not seen your adult son for more than a decade. They have children (your grandchildren) whom you have never met. You are estranged, and despite your best efforts, you are unable to initiate contact and patch up the frayed relationship with your son. Now you are reviewing your estate plan, and you cannot help but ask. Should you exclude your estranged child from your will?
Can You Disinherit an Estranged Child?
Many parents feel powerless when an adult child chooses not to engage in a meaningful relationship with them anymore. While you cannot force your child to speak to you, this leaves questions about what you can or should leave an estranged child in your estate plan. If your child is untrustworthy or you are concerned that they would spend an inheritance too quickly or on unsavory items, you could form a trust with conditions that the trustee would make distributions to your child on a periodic basis subject to certain requirements.
If you believe there is no hope for reconciliation, and feel strongly that your child should not benefit from your assets when you pass, you must formally disinherit your child in writing. Simply indicating orally to other family members that your estranged child is not entitled to a portion of your estate is not sufficient. To disinherit an estranged adult child, the parent(s) must indicate this desire explicitly in their last will and testament. Some parents choose to include a letter in their estate file explaining their justification for the child’s estrangement and that their intentions are made with sound mind. If this is your decision, it is crucial you review your last will and testament with a qualified estate planning attorney. This is to prevent an estranged child from bringing a claim against your estate after you pass away.
How Does this Impact Grandchildren & Future Descendants?
If you intend to disinherit an estranged child, and they have children, you need to decide if you intend to disinherit your grandchildren (and potential future generations down the line). If this is your intention, you need to make a statement to that effect in your will. There is specific language to be utilized in this case. However, if you do not want your grandchildren to be punished just because they do not have an opportunity to get to know you, you can also add language to your will indicating that only your adult child is excluded from your estate. You can also make a specific gift to be allotted for each grandchild following your death or create a testamentary trust for the benefit of your grandchildren, and appoint an impartial trustee to administer the account.
Contact Tampa Family & Estate Planning Attorneys at Bubley & Bubley
Estrangement is not a topic people like to discuss. There is shame, regret and painful memories often associated with discussing family members we no longer speak to. But it is crucial to address estrangement in your estate plan. Don’t leave your future and the future of your family up to chance. Contact the Tampa family attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. today.