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Cutting out a family member from your will? Consider this.

An estate plan is a very personal legal document. It can include a variety of legal tools that are all designed to help better ensure your assets are passed along to future generations in line with your wishes. In some cases, this may include disinheriting a child or other loved one. 

Before making the decision to fully disinherit a loved one from an estate plan, take a moment to consider the reason behind the disiheritance.

  • Is the child addicted to drugs and you want to make sure the money is not used to fund this habit? Certain trusts can be set up that allow the child receive payment if he or she meets certain criteria. This could include enrolling in treatment for the addiction and passing drug tests before receiving payment from the trust.
  • Do you have a special needs child and are concerned that payment from your estate will result in disqualification from Medicaid? Trusts can also be used in these instances to help ensure the child receives funds to cover the costs of vacations and other things not covered by Medicaid without impacting eligibility.
  • Is one child better off than the rest? Keep in mind, a child's financial standing could change. A sprinkle trust can be established that uses a trustee to review the financial standing of each child and adjust payments accordingly.

Of course, these are only a few reasons you may consider cutting out a potential heir.

Whatever the reason behind cutting out a heir, the process generally goes more smoothly if it is not kept a secret. Communicate with loved ones. This can reduce the risk of contentious court battles over the estate.

Source: Bloomberg, "You want to cut your kid out of your will. Or do you?" Lewis Braham, July 23, 2013

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