20 May Cutting a kid out of an inheritance
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Q. I don’t plan to die anytime soon, but I want to make sure one of my two kids gets nothing. What do I have to do?
A. Dicey, but absolutely possible.
Dicey if your disinherited kid tries to fight for a share of your estate. More on that in a moment.
If you want to ensure that one of your children will not receive any part of your estate, you must do two things. First, you’ll need to create a will to handle your “probate” assets such as real estate owned in your own name, bank accounts, and personal property. Next, you’ll need to update your beneficiary designation forms to handle your “non-probate” assets, which include qualified retirement benefit plans and life insurance policies, said Kristen Curatolo, an estate planning attorney with Drinker Biddle & Reath in Florham Park.
For your probate assets, Curatolo said, you should sign a will that specifically gives your entire residuary estate to your favored child.
“It would be prudent to include a `Statement of Intent’ in your will that specifically states that you intentionally make no provision for your disfavored child or the descendants of your disfavored child under your will,” she said.
You should also be careful to observe all formalities when executing your will, she said. For safe measure, you should sign your will and a self-proving affidavit in the presence of three witnesses, a notary public, and your attorney. This will help avoid any future challenges to your will from the disfavored child, such as the child claiming undue influence or lack of capacity on your part.
For your non-probate assets, you should review the beneficiary designations and confirm they each reflect your desired beneficiaries, Curatolo said.
“This is important because your will does not control your non-probate assets,” she said. “If you have not completed a beneficiary designation form for a certain account, you should complete one now in order to avoid the account’s `default’ provisions which may result in your disfavored child receiving a portion of the proceeds or benefits of such account.”
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