Children and parents don’t always go well together. For children, being disinherited by their parents is probably the bluntest of all ‘transgressions’. One might wonder, however, about the nature of the issues that parents go through when they decide to express ultimate disapproval of their offspring—by cutting the latter out of their will. Law firms, including ConnollySuthers, which deal with wills and estates, know this fact all too well.
To understand the legal issues involved herewith, the term ‘child’ needs some concrete definition. The Succession Act of 1981 defines a ‘child’ as one that’s born out of marriage between a biological mother and father. Children born outside marriage, adopted, or are in a domestic relationship are also classified as such, as per succession purposes. Stepchildren are included as well, according to legislation present in all states.
Most State laws mandate that children can make a claim within 12 months from the parent’s demise. At the Court’s discretion, this timeline may either be extended or shortened depending on specific circumstances. General rules state that any child who finds the will’s statutes disadvantageous in terms of maintaining or hindering their advancement in life could make an appeal under relevant legislation.
Of course, there has to be a good reason why parents choose to exclude their children from the Will. Among the most common is estrangement. Parents may choose to disown their children for deeds that ‘reflect poorly on the family’s image’—a soap opera-worthy situation, but a real issue nonetheless. Or it might be the children are more than capable to financially provide for themselves and would not technically need additional assets from an heirloom. In this case, parents can choose to leave their estate to charitable organisations and the like.
Parents are still prone to making mistakes with regard to disinheritance decisions. At times, many may threaten an heir of being disowned if the latter fails to comply with a set of rules. This is not the most ideal way to go, as it deals with a morally suspicious dilemma—that of using money to trade for love and respect.
The least that parents could do is to accurately depict their reasons for disinheriting a child in their will. A straightforward decision put in paper is often enough to deter a will contest, which can present a whole new set of complications for the family to deal with.