In most cases after a death, children expect to take equal shares of their parent’s estate. It’s something that is known throughout life that whatever we have as parents we pass down to our children. There are occasions, however, when a parent decides to leave more of the estate to one child than the others or to disinherit one child completely. To some this may be something that is considered totally unfair and usually this feeling of unfairness comes from the disinherited child so obviously that feeling is valid but a common reaction. Unfortunately disinheritance of a child is not as rare as some may think, there are a lot of reasons for going through such a large and emotional step. A parent may exclude a child from the will because other children are more in need of assistance. For example, if the children have a difference in their jobs and are a brain surgeon, an undiscovered artist and a social worker, the parent leave everything to the social worker and the artist because the brain surgeon is able amply to provide for their own. While that doesn’t seem fair, because the child’s job shouldn’t mean they lose out on their inheritance, it does happen. This will seem extremely unfair to the child left out as it would feel like a punishment for doing well in life.
Companies like http://www.wiseman.co.uk can walk you through the process of disinheritance and assist you from start to finish. A parent may have provided more assistance to one child than to other children during life, so if we use the example careers as above: if a parent put a brain surgeon through university and medical school and paid toward other training, the parents may feel that particular child has already received a huge chunk of the family wealth. This is a good reason to ensure that you either do that for each child or you disinherit later on. The best thing you can do is make sure that if you are going to disinherit one child or leave more to one than the others, you speak to them first while you’re alive. Don’t wait until they go to a reading of the will and discover this has happened as there will be no time to answer questions or help them through a difficult time.
A dependent parent may choose to leave all their belongings to the child who helped them through the worst times of their life. If in a family there are three children and two of the three haven’t bothered to visit or assist in any way, then the child who did in fact help out may end up inheriting everything as a sign of gratitude. If there has been a break in the family where one child is estranged from all the others, then this could also be a reason for disinheritance. While it is a difficult decision to make for the most part especially when grandchildren are involved, it is up to the person who writes the will to make that choice for the family. The other thing they need to ensure is that the child who is inheriting everything is protected from law suits and making sure the inheritance isn’t tied up in expensive litigation. The disinheritance of a child or children is not something to be taken lightly. It is an intensely emotional step on both sides and parents who make a will disinheriting a child may harbour feelings of guilt for many years, and even the rest of their lives.
A child who doesn’t know about being disinherited until after the parent’s death may be devastated to learn of the parent’s rejection and feel like they no longer can gain the answers to it. A will doesn’t become effective until the testator dies and many things can take place during the interim period. It won’t matter if a parent reconciles with their child if they haven’t put their new wishes down on paper. Always, always speak to a solicitor.