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Idaho Estate Planning Cutting A Child Out Of Your Will

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I recently read an article about a father who had a very difficult daughter. She had caused him all kinds of grief during her life, and more particularly after she became an adult. After describing the strained relationship that existed between them because of the daughter’s abusive and irresponsible behaviors, the father asked one simple question. He wanted to know if he could “cut” his daughter out of his will. In other words, he wanted to know if he could disinherit his daughter.

At the Racine law office our team of talented Idaho estate planning attorneys work with each client to help them with their specific estate planning needs. We’ve counseled with and assisted clients for more than 70 years in making sure that their intentions are carried out not only while they’re alive but also after they have passed away. When we do this, sometimes we will have a client who wants to disinherit a child in their last will and testament. When we get this request, we make sure our client understands what it means to disinherit a child. We then move forward with helping our client meet this goal.

This article describes the process. We will first discuss whether you can cut a child out of your will under current Idaho law. We then discuss some reasons why a parent may want to cut a child out of their will. We then move forward with describing the actual process of how you go about disinheriting a child through your written will.

If you are considering disinheriting a child or some other family member from your estate, and you are reading this article, we strongly recommend that you contact us so that we can discuss this with you in more detail. We would be happy to discuss this with you through a free 30-minute consultation or as we discuss your Estate Planning Questionnaire information with you.

Can You Cut a Child Out of Your Will?

Disinheriting someone from a will, especially a child, is a pretty drastic measure. Because of this, clients often asked me if they can legally disinherit their children from their estate so that they will receive nothing after the client passes away. The short answer is yes.

Idaho law follows the common law which has always allowed a person to specifically disinherit individuals from their estate through a written will. Knowing now that the answer is yes that a parent can legally disinherit a child from their estate, we will move on with the next questions.

Why Would You Cut a Child Out of Your Will?

Specifically, the next question that is usually asked is why would a parent want to cut a child out of their will. There could be many reasons. As we started this article, the father who asked the question, simply had a difficult relationship with his daughter. She had been abusive and irresponsible towards him and other family members. Because of the damaged relationship, or lack of relationship, this father had a desire to disinherit his daughter.

Even if you have a good relationship with your child, there are still several valid reasons why you may want to disinherit them from your estate. Suppose for a moment that you have a child who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. In this instance, if you were to leave money or property to this child from your estate, they will likely use this to support their addictions.

Alternatively, suppose that you have a child who is disabled. If this were the case, your child could be receiving benefits from federal or state programs because of their disability. If this child were to receive an inheritance of money or property from you, it’s possible that this could make them ineligible to continue receiving the benefits they currently have. Because of this, many parents who have disabled children will disinherit their disabled child so that child will continue to receive those benefits.

Additionally, I often have parents who discuss the economic situation of several of their children. When this happens, parents will often say that they have one or more children who are “well off” and have more money or property than the parent may have. Even when this isn’t the case, often parents will favor a child who is not doing as well financially over those who are. Sometimes this favoring goes to the point of disinheriting the child who is already doing well financially.

These are just some of the reasons why parents have discussed with me disinheriting a child from their estate. There are many other reasons why a parent may choose to do this.

How Do You Cut a Child Out of Your Will?

The final question we will discuss is how you cut a child out of your will. Assuming that you have determined a reason for disinheriting your child, the process of actually doing the disinheritance is not difficult.

When we are assisting a client, we simply use one sentence that states that the child is disinherited. There is no legal requirement for giving a specific reason, or really any reason why the disinheritance is occurring.

Sometimes we have clients who just want to leave their children’s names off of their written will. We don’t encourage this. Idaho has a specific statute that protects what it calls “pretermitted children” which are children who are not named in a parent’s written will. The statute states that if a child is omitted or pretermitted from a written will, they will receive a share of the estate equal to the value of what they would have received through the laws of intestacy unless it appears clear that the omission of the child was intentional by the parent. Not naming a child also leaves the door open for that child to challenge the written will.

Alternatively, we also sometimes have parents who will say that they will leave nothing but $1.00 to a specific child. We don’t necessarily recommend this action either. The reason for this is that the personal representative is obligated to deliver that $1.00 to that child. If they are difficult to find, or if they are causing problems, it may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to deliver that simple $1.00 inheritance to the child.

If you have questions about disinheriting a child from your estate, or cutting them out of your will, we can help. We encourage you to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation where we can discuss this and any other estate planning questions you have.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney To Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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