After all, this often proves deeply scarring -- even to adult children. Furthermore, the person you exclude may respond in ways that will harm the very people you want most to receive all of your property and possessions.                                                                                                                 If after considerable thought you still want to disinherit a child, you should still try to explain your reasoning in a neutral way, preferably while you’re still alive and not just in print. This may help decrease the chances that this child will later challenge your will.

Factors to Consider When Disinheriting a Child

  • Individual wealth compared to other children. If one adult child is highly successful and really doesn’t need your money – while another child is seriously disabled, this is often one of the most legitimate reasons to disinherit someone (of course you can still give the wealthy one a token number of family keepsakes);
  • One of your children cannot work full-time due to a very sick spouse or a disabled child of his or her own. Like, the situation above, it obviously makes sense to strongly favor the adult child struggling through this type of complicated situation. However, you should still try to leave something to your other kids, if possible. Once again, it's best to discuss your choices with everyone while you’re still alive;
  • Remember that revenge and anger are often very unpredictable. Unfortunately, there are a number of technically legal (yet amoral) ways that “scorned” adult children can still try to gain control of all of your money. A few may try to gain guardianship of all of your affairs, even when you’re still of sound mind. As some legal scholars have noted, a “scorned” and disinherited adult child can easily convince herself that any “means” justify her desired ends – winding up with all of your money. Therefore, try to act cautiously and generously with everyone you love.

What Various Authorities Say about Disinheriting Relatives

            A January 2013 NBC news article directly addresses this issue and provides some useful insights and added considerations.

  • According to Bryant University Legal Studies Professor Ron Washburn, disinheriting family members “happens more frequently than most people think [beyond just the rich and famous].” He adds that when you do this, you're making a statement that “is [definitely] going to reverberate;”
  • One California estate planning lawyer said she believes “as many as 30% of her clients disinherit a family member from a will;”
  • As one person notes in this same NBC article, you're making a rather profound decision when you disinherit a child. It's one way a testator can “haunt a family member from beyond the grave.”                                                                                                                     


Whatever you decide, try to bear in mind that a great many people actually want their last words in print to truly benefit others – and not hurt them.

To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

Shane Smith
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Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia

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