Estranged Children and Your Estate
February 25th, 2016
If you have a child who you do not communicate with, you might want to make sure that the child does not receive part of your estate. The decision to do that can be difficult, but the process is not.
A recent Market Watch column, entitled "Can my 40-year-old long-lost daughter get my estate?," features a question from a reader with an interesting story. As a teenager he had a relationship, which unbeknownst to him resulted in a daughter. He found out when the daughter wrote to him with the news that her mother had identified him as the father while the mother was on her death bed.
The man paid for DNA testing which confirmed that she was his only child.
Unfortunately, the father and daughter ultimately did not get along and ceased communication. The man lives with a partner who wishes to give him her house when she passes. However, this partner is reluctant to do so. It seems she does not want the daughter to inherit the house when the father passes away.
The man wonders how he can ensure that the daughter will not inherit the house.
The answer to the reader's question is very short and simple. He can have a will prepared to specifically exclude the daughter and any of her children.
Nevertheless, the article does not elaborate regarding why this needs to be done.
Accordingly, a more complete explanation would have noted what happens when a single person passes away without a will. In such circumstances, the laws of intestate succession apply. Consequently, the estate passes to any living children.
So, if you do not want a child to inherit your estate, you need a will. However, that is not all that must be done.
The law assumes that if a child is not mentioned in a will, it was an oversight. The judge can reconstruct the will to include the child. For that reason the child must be mentioned in the will and specifically disinherited.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you do this right.
Reference: Market Watch (Feb. 5, 2016) "Can my 40-year-old long-lost daughter get my estate?"