Posted on 14.10.15 by Tasoula Addison
Cutting a child out of your Will or significantly making the share unequal may sound like a drastic measure; in actual fact it is more common place than you think.
When it comes to making a Will, many parents will fret and be riddled with anxiety at the thought of favouring one child over the other. Dividing your assets unevenly within your typical nuclear family can be a little complicated, but it can become even more of a minefield with the rise of second marriages, where parents have children from different relationships and assets they have owned previously.
Over the years our specialist Wills, Trusts and Probate team have seen them all and dealt successfully with many cases, both unusual and common. Although the scenarios can be complex when dividing your assets unequally, there are plenty of good reasons for doing so, which don’t necessarily create family problems. Below are some of the reasons and cases we have dealt with.
Reasons for cutting your child’s inheritance
- Still living at home – A child still lives at home with their parents. In this instance, the parents often leave the whole house to that child so they can continue living there, rather than simply giving them a right of occupation. As the house is usually the biggest asset by far, this is effectively favouring one child and leaving them with most of the estate.
- Financially better off – One child is more financially stable than their sibling and therefore doesn’t need as big a share in the division of the assets.
- Estranged – Parents have become estranged from a certain child and no longer want to include them to benefit from their Will.
- Problematic child – One child may have life problems such as, being drug addict, an alcoholic or bankrupt. As a result parents feel they would spend their hard earned money unwisely if they received it.
- Disabled child – This can go one of two ways: in some cases parents want to leave everything in a trust for their disabled child to access in a controlled manner. Sometimes however, they want to leave all of their assets to their able bodied child as the disabled child is already provided for financially with benefits etc.
- Skipping a generation altogether – When we see elderly clients making a Will, it is commonplace for their children to be in their 60s themselves and have their own significant assets. Where the children have taxable estates already, they do occasionally ask their parents to make a Will ensuring that their share goes directly to the grandchildren, who might be in their 20s or 30s and trying to get on housing ladder. This is a more tax efficient alternative.
- Caring for parents – We have seen many cases where one child has spent years looking after their parents. They may have even moved in with them to provide care so that their parents don’t have to go in to a care home; in these scenarios parents often want to recognise this in the Will.
As you can see reasons for cutting a child out or making an unequal division doesn’t always have to be controversial. We deal with many cases where there is an uneven distribution of assets, but everyone involved gets on well and is happy with the arrangements. This is usually the case when parents have been open with their children and discussed their measures and reasoning before they pass away.
Trouble can flair up when children have been kept in the dark and there unequal share comes as a shock; this is where Will and Estate disputes can arise.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options, get in touch with our Wills team today. Although cutting a child out of your Will may seem like a daunting and complex procedure, our solicitors have years of experience of dealing with a whole range of complicated family circumstances, and will be able to give you the best advice possible based on your individual circumstances. Give us a call on 0343 507 5151 and let our experts take care of your wishes.