For individuals who have aging parents or grandparents, many believe an inheritance to be in their future. There are, however, a number of factors that may influence a parent’s or grandparent’s decision of whether or not to leave a child or grandchild a sizable inheritance, many of which center around financial responsibility and life choices.

Throughout the course of one’s life, mistakes will be made. It’s from these mistakes that we learn and, hopefully, grow wiser. As a parent or grandparent, it can be difficult to see a child or grandchild flounder and struggle. This is often especially true when it comes to financial mishaps that may adversely impact a loved one’s life in numerous ways. However, even relatives that have the means may decide it’s best to allow a younger relative to figure things out on their own.

Parents obviously want what’s best for their children and, in some cases; parents may reason that leaving a child a large inheritance would do more harm than good. This is often especially the case when a child has demonstrated a lack of financial responsibility in the past. For example, a parent may worry about a child who accrues thousands of dollars in credit card debt related to lavish purchases he or she simply cannot afford.

In some cases, a grown child may continue making poor financial decisions and eventually be driven into bankruptcy. In other cases, however, a grown child may take steps to regain control of their finances and make sacrifices to pay off debt. In both scenarios, a parent is likely to take notice.

In cases where a parent or grandparent communicated their intentions to leave a child or grandchild an inheritance, yet failed to do so, the validity of a will or a loved one’s state of mind may be in question. Inheritance disputes may also arise in cases where a loved one ends up leaving the bulk of their estate to an individual who is not a relative or makes sudden changes to a will.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Why you may not get an inheritance (and what to do about it),” Robert Pagliarini, May 6, 2014