There are various reasons why a parent would disinherit an adult child ranging from failure to communicate for a period of time to verbal disagreements. Under Texas law, there is no legal requirement to name a family member as a beneficiary.

The following are suggestions to reduce risk of a successful challenge to your estate plan:

  1. Name the child you are disinheriting. This reduces the risk that you simply forgot to name the disinherited child. If you desire to also disinherit your child’s descendants, then this should be stated as well.
  2. Consider giving the beneficiary enough to have second thoughts before contesting. It is not unusual for wills or trusts to have a no contest provision to say that the beneficiary will only receive $1 if they do contest. However, if the beneficiary is disinherited, then $1 would generally not be enough of a disincentive for  contesting (although they may not understand that). As a result, many may give enough to make the beneficiary think twice before contesting. However, even if all children are given an equal amount, some greedy children think they are entitled to more than an equal share and might contest.
  3. Do not state reason for the disinheritance. Otherwise, the disinherited beneficiary may have ammunition to contest.
  4. Use beneficiary designations. If you have a will, then you have to go through the probate process giving the beneficiary a chance to challenge its validity. A will is a matter of public record. However, not all assets can pass by beneficiary designation. If there is a beneficiary designation, then a death certificate or perhaps a completed form is usually all that is needed to transfer the asset.
  5. Use a trust. A trust is private and courts are not necessary for the distribution of assets. Furthermore, trusts give far more opportunities in protecting beneficiaries (i.e., if the beneficiary is disabled, has creditor issues, has marital problems, is a spendthrift, has an addiction, dies before the parent, dictation of how assets pass even if child survives you so assets go the way you want, etc.) than beneficiary designations.

If interested in learning more about this article or other estate planning, Medicaid and public benefits planning, probate, etc., attend one of our free upcoming virtual Estate Planning Essentials workshops by clicking here or calling 214-720-0102.  We make it simple to attend and it is without obligation.