Family is an important foundation for most people. We spend most of our lives interacting with our family members, whether that is our parents, siblings, spouses, or even children. Having children and guiding them as they grow up is rewarding and can be a source of great joy. However, not every parent-child relationship is ideal. In some unfortunate circumstances, the parent-child relationship will deteriorate. When structuring an estate plan, you need to keep your family dynamic in mind. If you wish to make sure that you disinherit your child, a trust may be an optimal vehicle.
First, understand that the law does not require that you leave anything to your child. Unlike a spouse, there is no law stating that your child can inherit from your estate even against the clear wishes of your last will and testament. However, leaving a will that disinherits your child can leave the estate open to a suit from your child to set the will aside.
With a trust, you can transfer all or most of your assets to the trust before you pass away. You can name a beneficiary, which depending on the trust can be yourself during your lifetime and then be another person after your death. You can also select at trustee, whose job is to manage the assets in the trust and distribute the assets in accordance with your instructions as set out in the trust documents. A trust, as opposed to a will, transfers the assets named in the trust documents at a time you select (such as immediately, at the time of your death, etc.). These assets will pass outside of your estate. This means that you can effectively pass all or most of your assets through a trust without the assets ever having to go through probate. This will make it more difficult for a child you wish to disinherit to challenge the distribution of your estate to successfully inherit, as the trust documents will distribute your assets outside of probate. Be aware, however, that a disgruntled child may still have the ability to challenge the trust, depending on the type of trust instrument as well as the timing of when the trust was created.
If you have questions about trusts and estate planning, call us today at (651) 371-9117. We can talk with you about plans and how to reach your goals.