Disinheriting a Child


Estate Planning

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Disinheriting a Child

 

Disinheriting a Child

by Rick Bloom

 

                 While the word "disinheritance" can conjure up thoughts of family fights and stress, there are other reasons why someone might consider this action. Whatever the reasoning behind it, the first step in disinheriting a child is amending your will.  Under Michigan law, you do not have to leave any inheritance to a child; however, if you do not mention your children in your will, then it's presumed that you have forgotten about them and thus, they can contest the will and potentially receive an inheritance.  Therefore, it is important that you amend your will and include a provision that mentions your child's name and the fact that you have chosen to disinherit him or her.  You don't necessarily have to include the reasons why, just the statement that he or she is being disinherited.  This will prevent the child from having any rights to your estate upon death.  In addition, it is important to check whether you have named the child as beneficiary on a life insurance policy, investments or anything else.  Even if you disinherit your child through your will, if he is named as a beneficiary, such as on a life insurance policy, that would take precedent.   Therefore, it is important that you review your beneficiary designations to make sure the child is not named.

 

            The aforementioned items will disinherit your child from your estate.  To assure the child is not involved with handling your affairs if something should happen during your lifetime, it's important to prepare medical and durable power of attorney documents.  In those documents you can name who you want to handle your affairs if you cannot, and you can also name an alternative.  In addition, you can once again include a paragraph in those documents stating that you do not want the child involved in any of these matters.

 

             Amending your will and preparing medical and durable power of attorney documents will protect you.  Because you are disinheriting a child, I would also recommend that you have an attorney draft the documents for you.  Whenever you disinherit a child, there is a greater possibility that litigation could happen.  Therefore, it is important to dot all of your i's and cross all of your t's.  Having the aforementioned documents drafted by an estate planning attorney will greatly reduce the chance of litigation. 

 

            Laws, similar to just about everything else in our society, have become much more complex and specialized.  It used to be that just about any attorney would be able to prepare a will; but, that is no longer the case.  Lawyers have become more specialized and laws have become more complex.  Therefore, it is important to remember that the services of an attorney you would use to handle your estate, is not the same attorney that you would use to handle a personal injury claim.  Most reputable and good attorneys won't handle a matter unless they have the expertise. However, like all professions, there are some bad apples that will attempt to handle issues regarding areas of law that they're not fully competent in.  It is important that you always keep your guard up and never be afraid to ask questions.  Doing your homework ahead of time and making sure that you're dealing with the right professional will save you and your family lots of grief.

 

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