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What if I want to disinherit one of my kids?

Under California law, your spouse and children are your natural and expected heirs. But what if you want to disinherit one of your children? Per, you should never make this decision lightly

Just because you and the child disagree about some of his or her life choices or even have major arguments about them does not necessarily mean that you should disinherit him or her. Likewise, if the two of you have a fight about anything whatsoever, do not make or amend your will while you are angry at him or her.

Your will

Remember, if you disinherit your child outright, (s)he likely will attempt to challenge your will after you die, claiming you were mentally incompetent at the time you executed it and/or that you were under the undue influence of someone else, such as a one of his or her siblings or a caregiver. Consequently, you should hire an attorney to draft any will you make or any amendments you make to your existing will.

Rather than disinheriting your child outright, you may wish to consider leaving him or her a small bequest in your will and including a no contest clause stating that if (s)he unsuccessfully challenges your will after you die, (s)he will become completely disinherited.

Your reasons

Be very careful about the reason(s) you state in your will for disinheriting your child. General language such as “for personal reasons of my own” usually is far preferable to stating specific reasons, such as the fact that (s)he never listened to you or never called or visited you. The problem with setting forth one or more specific disinheritance reasons in your will is that if your child can prove that (s)he actually did or did not do the things you allege, (s)he may have a valid will challenge.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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