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The true costs associated with disinheritance lawsuits

Relationships between family members can be complicated and, at times, strained. This is often especially true of relationships between a parent and a child. In some cases, a relationship may be so dysfunctional and broken that a parent and child no longer speak or play a role in each other's lives.

Familial rifts and those between a child and parent may be caused or exacerbated by a number of things. Perhaps a parent doesn't agree with a child's lifestyle or a child has chosen to end a relationship with a parent over past abuse or abandonment issues. Whatever the case may be, some parents choose to take intentional steps to disinherit an estranged child and when this occurs, a child may choose to contest a will or trust.

In probate litigation matters involving will contests brought by estranged children, relationships between siblings, a surviving parent and extended relatives are often irrevocably damaged. What's more, it's often the siblings of an estranged son or daughter who bear the brunt of a disinherited child's anger and hostility.

A parent who is considering drafting or amending an existing will to intentionally disinherit a child would be wise to think long and hard about the possible ramifications of doing so. To spare surviving loved ones the pain and burden of going through probate litigation, a parent may choose instead to do one of the following:

  • Leave an estranged child a reduced portion of an estate
  • Name the child as a benefactor to a trust with strict stipulations related to asset payout
  • Leave assets to grandchildren

There will always be conflict amongst families. In some cases, familial disputes may result in the disinheritance of a son or daughter. In cases where an individual has questions about how to contest a will or trust, it's wise to contact an attorney who handles probate litigation matters.


Source: Lake County News, "Estate Planning: Dealing with estranged children," Dennis Fordham, Sep. 6, 2014

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