Can I stop my husband and 3 children from getting an inheritance?


Q. I have a volatile relationship with my husband and strained relationships with my three grown children. Can I will my Social Security benefits — rather than to my greedy husband — into an account for my disabled autistic son that he would get when he’s around 25 and let it accrue? He is 12 now and I fear he won’t be cared for properly without me.
— Concerned

A. We’re sorry to hear about the strained relationships.

When it comes to Social Security benefits, you don’t really have many options for your son.

Your Social Security benefits will stop when you are deceased, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

You can, though, specify in your will that your assets will fund a special needs trust for your son, she said.

But even if you wanted to disinherit your husband, he would be entitled to an elective share, which is equal to one-third of the augmented estate, which includes the deceased person’s probate estate plus certain assets transferred by the deceased person during lifetime or were controlled by the deceased person or which were made within two years of death, Whitenack said.

“The augmented estate does not include life insurance, joint annuities or pensions,” Whitenack said.

As for your other children, you don’t have to leave anything to them upon your death, she said.

You should consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss the options available to you.

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This story was originally published on March 1, 2023. 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.