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The Delicate Subject of Disinheritance: To Explain or Not to Explain

  • By Franklin Drazen
  • |
  • Posted July 31, 2023

Making the difficult decision to disinherit a child from your estate is never easy. You may wonder: Do I need to explain my decision to my child? The short answer is no; you are under no legal obligation to do so. But the longer answer? It's a bit more nuanced. Let's dive into this delicate subject with guidance from our Milford, CT estate planning attorneys.

The Choice to Explain Disinheritance

Legally, you are not required to justify your decision to disinherit a child. Your estate, your rules. However, if you're concerned about long-term harmony in your family and wish to prevent potential legal disputes, providing an explanation could be the better course of action.

Why an Explanation Can Be Beneficial

Your decision to disinherit might make perfect sense to you, but it could shock your child and lead to misunderstanding and resentment. This can create a ripple effect, where the disinherited child might contest the will, dragging the remaining beneficiaries into court and costing them significant time and money.

Explaining doesn't mean you need to justify yourself or engage in debate. It's more about clarity and kindness, helping to soften the blow and reduce potential conflict. The explanation can be as detailed or as general as you're comfortable with.

How to Communicate Your Decision

While a face-to-face conversation may be ideal in some circumstances, it might not always be practical or possible. Here are some alternatives:

  1. Letter: A personal, handwritten letter can convey your decision and the reasons behind it in a considerate way.
  2. Video Message: Recording a video message can be a good option if you're more comfortable speaking your truth. It also allows your child to see your facial expressions and hear your tone of voice, which can help convey your empathy and love.

In conclusion, while you're not legally obliged to explain why you're disinheriting a child, choosing to do so can often be the kinder and wiser decision for family harmony and to prevent potential legal disputes. Navigating this sensitive issue can be complex, and discussing your situation with an estate planning attorney may be beneficial.

Our Milford estate planning attorneys are here to provide compassionate and practical guidance during this challenging time. Contact our Milford law firm at 203-877-7511 and we’ll help you craft an estate plan that best serves your wishes and the interests of your family.

Contact our estate planning lawyers located in Milford and Hartford, Connecticut.