Relationships between parents and children can be complicated. Over time, certain life events can break down once-strong relationships, sometimes leading to years of estrangement.

As a parent, deciding to disinherit a child from a will is a major decision. You may have various completely valid reasons for no longer wanting to leave your child an inheritance but still struggle with guilt over the idea of disinheriting them and leaving them nothing.

The benefits of a living trust

Before you decide, there are some other options you can consider. A living trust can be a great way to provide your child with an inheritance while you are still living.

When you set up a living trust, you put your child’s inheritance into the trust. You appoint a trustee, who is someone who oversees the trust and is responsible for transferring trust funds to your child.

A living trust allows you to control how much your child receives and when. Living trusts are a great option for parents who are concerned the child may spend the money unwisely.

You can even choose to reward your child with trust disbursements upon the completion of certain goals, such as getting a job or going to rehab.

Leave a token gift

Another option is to leave a small or token type of inheritance. This is a good way to let your child know you did not forget about them, while keeping your intentions clear.

If you believe none of these options work for you and decide to go through with the disinheritance, remember that it does not prevent your child from contesting the will. After you are gone, your child could still receive their inheritance if a judge rules in their favor.

Whatever option you choose, tell your child clearly and firmly what you are doing. Do not make vague threats that you may or may not follow through on. This usually only leads to more bad blood.

There is often no perfect solution to complex family dynamics. Talking through your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney can help.