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Can I Leave a Child Out of My Will?

By Barry Peters | May 11, 2019

When the relationship between a parent and child has grown distant, sometimes a parent would choose to exclude that child from an inheritance. Is that permissible?

Absolutely. Every person making a Last Will and Testament has absolute control over his or her beneficiaries. There is no obligation to make any gift to any child with whom there is a strained (or severed) relationship.

To accomplish this, all that is required is to simply name other beneficiaries in the Will or Trust. By failing to name one’s own child or children, they are excluded from the any inheritance.

A further step can be made (but usually is not required): An additional statement may be included that indicates that the person making the Will or Trust left out a specific child on purpose. In other words, the failure to leave an inheritance to that child was not an oversight. It was intentional.

This additional step is probably best reserved for those circumstances where the parent believes that the child is likely to mount a legal challenge to his or her exclusion from the inheritance. But in the absence of that expectation, simply naming other heirs is legally sufficient.

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