You may have what you feel are good reasons for not including one of your children in your will. Family dynamics are a complicated thing, and it is not unheard of for parents to become estranged from an adult child or for disagreements and ill-will to take place between siblings.
And, less nefariously, sometimes one child may be in greater need of an inheritance than another. Or, you may have concerns that your adult child will simply squander an inheritance.
Still, disinheriting a child can become problematic, especially if the child chooses to contest your will after you pass on. Fortunately, there are ways to pass assets on to a child without including that child in your will.
The problem with disinheritance
If you disinherit a child, it could lead to problems upon your death. Your child may contest the will, claiming it should not be followed and state laws governing inheritance should be followed instead.
A will can be contested on a variety of grounds. For example, your child could claim the will was executed under coercion, meaning you were forced into signing it. Your child could also claim the will was executed due to undue influence, meaning you were encouraged to execute the will through deceit or when you were not of sound mind.
A will contest is undesirable. It further muddies the waters of relationships between heirs, and it can be costly both in time and money.
Alternatives to disinheritance
Still, you may believe you have a good reason for not including your child in your will. If so, you can provide an inheritance for them in other ways, if you wish.
For example, you could list them as a beneficiary in your life insurance policy. Similarly, you could name them as a beneficiary to a payable-on-death account such as a bank account or retirement account.
Also, you can choose to leave them money through a trust. Conditions can be placed on trusts, dictating how trust assets are to be distributed. For example, you could provide for graduated disbursements when your child reaches a certain age or certain life events take place, such as graduating from college.
As this shows, you can provide an inheritance to your adult child without necessarily including them in your will. This may help to smooth out hurt feelings upon your death for the sake of family unity.