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A common mistake people make when disinheriting a child

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Estate planning

Some testators establishing Arizona estate plans have very straightforward goals. They want to provide for their spouses and leave each of their children or grandchildren an equivalent share of their remaining assets. Other people have very unique desires because of their personal and family circumstances. For example, perhaps someone has become estranged from one of their children after the child became an adult. Issues ranging from divorce to substance abuse could lead to the deterioration of a parent-child relationship.

Many parents attempt to weather downturns in relationships with their children, but they may eventually decide to take legal action. Disinheriting a child could be the right move for a parent who has not had communication with an adult child in years or who does not want to finance a questionable lifestyle. Those seeking to disinherit their children in Arizona frequently make a mistake that could undermine their wishes in the future.

Removing a name does not disinherit a child

People often wrongly assume that disinheriting an immediate family member simply requires their omission from estate planning paperwork. Someone who previously included their child by name in their documents might revise them to remove their name. Someone who is about to establish their first-ever estate plan might decide to include all of their other children by name while ignoring the child they chose to disinherit.

The problem with this approach is that it allows the disinherited child to claim that their omission was a mistake. People sometimes contest or challenge estate plans by alleging that the testator did something in error. The estate could end up paying thousands to defend the testator’s documents. Those attempting to disinherit a child typically need to mention that decision in their estate planning paperwork. Otherwise, they may want to arrange to leave a single, low-value asset to the disinherited individual. That way, there is no question about whether someone mistakenly omitted one person from their estate plan.

Anyone who is about to draft an estate plan or make changes to an existing one may require guidance to avoid mistakes that might affect their chances of success. Closing loopholes that could lead to lawsuits can help someone achieve their legacy goals while avoiding the potential expenses generated by unnecessary probate litigation.