Troubleshooting Legal Problems

Can you exclude your adult child from your will or estate plan?

When you are deciding about your estate plan, specifically who your beneficiaries will be, you may decide to exclude an adult child from your will. It is uncommon, but it happens.

Usually, the reasons for excluding an adult child from the will are that the parent and the adult child have an estranged relationship, do not speak, and have not been in contact for years.

If you find yourself in such a situation and decide to exclude your adult child from your will and want to ensure that none of your assets go to them, you can.

However, you must make it very clear. Attempt to be as unambiguous as possible to avoid legal challenges after your death. Contesting a will and the legal process that comes with it can be expensive and time-consuming.

How to make it clear

You should speak with your attorney for legal advice, but one example of a statement that you could write in your will that specifically excludes an adult child from your will and prevents them from inheriting from you might be:

“I am aware of my legal right to provide for my child, [Child’s Name], but have decided not to do so for personal reasons. I have reflected on this decision for some time and make this determination carefully and in my right mind.”

Why make it clear?

The importance of clarifying that you intend to exclude your adult child from your will is essential because it protects your estate plan from that adult child contesting it in court.

It happens often that disappointed family members who find out they are not in the will go to court to argue that the person who died may have forgotten to include them or was not in their right mind when they created the will.

Things to consider

It is wise to consider the consequences of excluding an adult child from your will. If they have a relationship with their siblings -assuming you have other children- this decision may affect that relationship negatively.

Excluding an adult child from a will can lead to hurt feelings and family disputes, especially between siblings. For this reason, it is critical that you think of this thoroughly.

Beneficiary designations

Make sure you consider things outside your will, like insurance policies, for which you may have designated that adult child as a beneficiary. If you plan to leave them nothing, ensure to update your beneficiary designations.

Seek professional advice

Excluding an adult child is a big and difficult decision that can have long-term consequences, so seek advice prior to making this official to ensure that this is a permanent decision, and not a decision led by a spur-of-the-moment event.

Most states allow this and Pennsylvania is no different. Excluding an adult child from your will is possible and you can do it. However, it can have legal and personal consequences, which is why you should be mindful before you make it official.