My kids are brats. I don’t want them to inherit. What’s next?


Q. I’ve decided I no longer want to leave my estate to my kids. They are ungrateful brats. How can I set things up to give my money to charity when I die? Actually half to my college and half to another charity. I don’t want my kids to be able to fight my will.
— So done with them

A. We’re sorry to hear your relationship with your children isn’t great.

You have many options for your estate.

For starters, unless there is a pre-existing contractual agreement or other obligation to do so, a person is typically not required to leave anyone — other than their spouse — any part of their estate, said Adam L. Sandler, an attorney with the Wills, Trusts & Estates and Taxation Group at Einhorn, Barbarito, Frost & Botwinick in Denville.

He said a properly drafted last will and testament allows a person to name the beneficiaries of their estate, which can include charities, as well as the extent and in what manner each beneficiary will inherit, he said.

Sandler said nothing can be done to prevent a child from challenging a will, but a competent estate planning attorney can take steps to mitigate the risk that a challenge may be successful.

This may include ensuring the testator — the person who establishes a will — has the requisite capacity to sign a will and that they are signing it free of any undue influence or duress, he said.

“An attorney will typically meet with a client several times to discuss the client’s intention of disinheriting a child, take copious notes that may be offered as evidence in the event of a will contest and even conduct the meeting in the presence of another attorney or staff member of the firm who could act as an additional witness,” he said.

A will should include specific language that it is the testator’s intent to disinherit an individual and that such individual should be treated as predeceasing the testator for purposes of the will, he said. This helps ensure that the disinherited individual does not inadvertently benefit.

It’s also important to remember that not all assets pass through the estate and pursuant to the terms of a will.

“Assets like retirement accounts, life insurance, annuities, and more pass by beneficiary designation,” Sandler said. “You want to be sure that beneficiary designations are properly revised to reflect the appropriate beneficiaries.”

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This story was originally published on Dec. 22, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.