Gransnet forums


Wills and estranged children.

(114 Posts)
Luckylegs9 Tue 12-Sep-17 06:56:53

Morally, is it right to exclude one child from inheriting because, they are wealthier than their brother or sister . or estranged because that is the way they want it. I am battling with my conscience, because no matter what has gone on, which is in my opinion cruel, I still love estranged adult child. Sure she doesn't need or expect anything after all this time.

suzied Tue 12-Sep-17 07:47:44

I don't think it's a moral issue , it's simply your decision. Maybe discuss it with your other children? What would they think?

jusnoneed Tue 12-Sep-17 08:09:27

I am in the process of changing my will to exclude my eldest son. He has had no contact with us for nearly 10 years (grown up grandchildren the same) so I think that shows he doesn't care about us or anything we may have. So youngest son will be sole heir.
It has taken some thought, and yes guilty feelings, but if we are not good enough in life then nothing should be expected when we're gone.

M0nica Tue 12-Sep-17 08:27:34

I remember reading an article from someone whose parents had decided to leave their whole estate to her sibling because she had done well in life and her sibling had not. There was no estrangement, the wealthier sibling had been close to her family.

In this article she wrote about her overwhelming sense of rejection, that her parents dismissed her for her success. She said that she could have understood her parents leaving more to her sibling but to be cut out of the will completely entirely devastated her and affected her relationship with her sibling.

If a child has already cut themselves off from their family. That is a very different thing and how one reacts in those circumstances will vary from individual.

annsixty Tue 12-Sep-17 08:35:44

I would cut them out but say to siblings, if they choose to share that is their decision.
If someone cuts contact and doesn't care how you are they should not be rewarded, but leave a letter with your will explaining your reasons. I think that would stop them making a claim, but not absolutely sure.

Christinefrance Tue 12-Sep-17 08:46:46

Very difficult situation for you luckylegs I understand your feelings but think you should will something to your estranged child if only to prevent the siblings falling out.

Nannarose Tue 12-Sep-17 09:17:13

I think that your money is yours to do what you like with. I think there are just a few issues that need considering:
Morally, if some of your money was inherited on the understanding that it would go to the children
Legally if an estranged child might have claim on the estate - so if there is a lot of money or complicated family situation, needs to be discussed with a solicitor. I also understand, like annsixty, that a letter helps. You may also need to consider the grandchildren if there are any.
However, I think you are on dodgy ground with annsixty's other suggestion. At a personal level, suggesting siblings might share puts a burden on them. The other problem is that if someone is in receipt of state benefits, and inherits a sum of money, they cannot refuse it or give it away(well, they can, but the benefits are awarded as if they have it!).
So I do think that your will has to reflect what you want to happen. And of course, it can be changed if circumstances alter.

midgey Tue 12-Sep-17 10:27:15

Perhaps you could leave something personal or family oriented for the estranged one, you haven't forgotten them at all, it does hurt to have nothing from a parent.

MissAdventure Tue 12-Sep-17 10:32:44

Its easy to say, since I'm not estranged, but I would not worry about someone who wasn't worried about me.
People reap what they sow, and I would assume that a child who had cut me out of their life would have given thought to these issues and decided that any money would be unwelcome.

paddyann Tue 12-Sep-17 12:40:55

they're still your children and there may have been faults on BOTH sides and you just dont recognise that.I would never leave one of mine out of my will ..regardless of what they did..or how often they saw me.They are my children and nothing can change that

GrandmaMoira Tue 12-Sep-17 13:22:07

Maybe you could leave a token amount to your estranged child to show you still care even though they cut you off.
I do think it's wrong to leave out a wealthy child but there are (rare) times when a child's behaviour has meant it is appropriate to cut them off.

Smileless2012 Tue 12-Sep-17 14:20:39

It's a difficult issue often discussed by parents who've been CO by an AC.

For me annsixty's post is right in that if an AC refuses to have any contact with you, they shouldn't expect to inherit when you've gone.

Inheritance is a gift, not a right. Why would someone wish to receive a gift from someone they've refused to have any thing to do with?

Paddyann all relationships have highs and lows, faults on both sides but the act of CO your parents is monumental and IMO unjustifiable unless there's been abuse in the relationship. That said, if an AC chooses not to have contact with their parents there's the issue of GC to consider. It's estimated that 1 million GP's in the UK because they're estranged from their AC are also estranged from their GP's.

We changed our wills some time ago. Our ES is and always will be our son. Making the decision we have is not refusing to acknowledge our son, even though he refuses to acknowledge us.

My mother disinherited me a couple of years ago because she sees myself and Mr. S. as being financially secure and my brother not so. TBH I did feel I'd been rejected as I'd done a lot to look after her and my stepfather while my brother was living away.

I can honestly say that her decision hasn't affected my relationship with my brother, it's her money so it's her decision.

There's no need for you to make a decision at this time Luckylegs so I would leave things as they are for now until there comes a time when you know what you want to do and can do so with a clear conscience.

Nannarose Tue 12-Sep-17 14:48:04

I think that there is a big difference between leaving out an estranged child ( or other family member) and deciding to even up life chances for ones children or GCs.
The decisions come from very different places.

At the moment our wills leave our money as evenly as possible. However, a situation is developing in which the following is likely :
One Gc will be a precious only, with a large trust, inherited from her mother's family; enough say, to buy her a house outright and pay for any education she is likely to want. Our contribution would hardly be noticed.
2 GCs will have no money at all from the other family, chronic illness has meant that the other GPs live in rented accommodation, with almost no savings. Our money will make a huge difference to those Gcs.
Fortunately, we all get on very well and share similar values. Once the situation is clear, we will discuss carefully with all adults and older children. Whatever we decide will be explained in a letter, and there will definitely be keepsakes.

paddyann Tue 12-Sep-17 15:31:56

smileless so you dont think you should love your children unconditionally?

Iam64 Tue 12-Sep-17 16:01:04

I believe there is a difference between loving our children unconditionally and difficult personal decisions about inheritance.
Would you split an inheritance equally if the estranged child is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Maybe they have attacked you, stolen from you.

Norah Tue 12-Sep-17 16:03:48

I don't think it to be moral, it's a heart decision. Our estate is split evenly between all our children, GC, and GGC. Nothing else feels correct, no matter who is more involved, kinder, or has estate coming to them from other side.

Smileless2012 Tue 12-Sep-17 17:33:48

It makes me reallyangrypaddyann when as an estranged parent I'm asked about unconditional love. We love our ES, despite the terrible way he has behaved toward us for almost 5 years we love him so yes, I believe in unconditional love because to love unconditionally is to love despite the things that the person you love says and does, and not because of them.

The greatest and most precious gift that any of us have to give is ourselves, our love. If that is rejected why on earth would or should any other gift be accepted?

It is as you say Norah a decision of the heart. For the estranged parents who make the decision to disinherit the AC whose cut them out, it's not an easy one. It takes a lot of soul searching and for many as Luckylegs has stated, there are feelings of guilt.

We don't feel guilty for the decision we've taken and even the implication that our love for our ES isn't unconditional because of our decision, will not lay any guilt at our door.

Broken hearts continue to beat, they continue to love even those who are responsible for breaking them.

Luckylegs9 Wed 13-Sep-17 07:01:26

Paddyann, you are talking from a very different position, I have read a lot of your posts and to your credit, you have a large close family. I know families that have been quite disfunctional and still be close, there is not a perfect way to create a family. Can you not imagine for a moment, how it feels to have your beloved child, whom you have done your best for and loved, turn away without explanation, cut all contact and keep you from much wanted and loved grandchildren, I can tell you now, it is a living bereavement, no decisions taken with regard to ec is taken likely, many times I have wished I was not here anymore, particularly since the death of my husband, the pain is so great, so please do not talk about inconditional love.
Smileless, you are a strong woman but I know what it has cost you to get to where you are now, it has come at a high cost. You are making the most of today as I should.

BlueBelle Wed 13-Sep-17 07:53:08

Oh gosh I could NEVER treat one child differently no matter what they had done or not done. From the day I had my children I wrote my will to be shared equally between my children no matter what their circumstances or our relationship They are my flesh and blood and I don't think deserving or non deserving comes into it, they are my kids One of my children has a much more affluent lifestyle that the other two but they will all get the same They all have my equal nonconditional love so whatever I leave will also be equal whether they care about me or not

When my Nan died she had left a will which left a small monetary gift to her two grandchildren but in the later years she had dementia and had never changed her will after her third grandchild was born. I talked to the two that were included and we were all in total agreement that Nan would have been mortified to not include the last baby so we divided the money left, three ways instead of two and they all had equal shares

Teetime Wed 13-Sep-17 08:52:20

My step son is not in contact with DH but when we were making up the will we decided to leave him a small fixed amount a we thought he might try to contest the will - have we got this wrong?

Smileless2012 Wed 13-Sep-17 09:26:27

No, you're not wrong Teetime any one can contest a will but if an explanation is given as to why someone's been excluded it makes their success less likely, as does leaving a small fixed amount.

It's not a question of being deserving or undeserving Bluebell, punishing or rewarding it's a very personal decision about what one feels comfortable with. As I posted yesterday, it has nothing to do with unconditional love.

IMO it's a very shallow person who measures another's love for them depending on what they are given materialistically which for me, and EAC would be doing if they saw being excluded from their parents will as proof that their parents didn't love them at all or love them unconditionally.

If I felt that way, once the initial shock of my mum telling me I'd been disinherited had passed, I could have spent the rest of my life believing that she loves my brother more, questioning her unconditional love for me. That's the danger of quantifying love in terms of things and money and discounting the relationship as a whole.

Luckylegssmile you are making the most of today and are having to make decisions like your will, alone. That's far harder than having your husband to talk it through with, than knowing for certain what his views would have been.

Not once in almost 5 years have I ended a very rare conversation with our ES, a letter or an email without telling him I love him and that I always will.

grannytotwins Wed 13-Sep-17 09:38:22

My husband and I have cut his eldest out of our wills. He and his wife have spent the last twenty plus years, refusing to speak to us or letting us see his grandchildren. The relationship has totally broken down and we have four others who will inherit, including one who has had drug problems. We felt a weight lifted when we signed the wills and know that the estrangement is final so we can't suffer the hurt any longer.

ethelwulf Wed 13-Sep-17 09:38:45

Rather pointless to make general rulings about an issue which has such complex and differing circumstances. Every such case is unique, and there is no hard and fast "ideal" solution. My own eldest son cut himself off from me some 7 years ago now, and is totally estranged. The issues surrounding that now mean that he is specifically excluded from my will. I would not dream of even trying to advise anyone else on what to do if they found themselves in a similar position. Far too complex and personal. A private matter which only they can decide on.

Joyfully Wed 13-Sep-17 09:39:51

We can love our children but not like some of their behaviours, so it really is up to us what we do with our finances when we die. We don't bring children into the world so they inherit. They inherit our beliefs and values, and we nurture them. You only have to talk to staff from nursing homes who say how disgusted they often feel when relatives who had no contact with their relative turn up pronto when the person dies and rifles through their belongings. A good idea is a living will. Film yourself speaking about the reasons you have decided to exclude anyone from your will. Make into a CD and keep it with your will, and give a copy to someone else. This way, the written will cannot really be disputed and the person who has been excluded can see and hear the reasons why. Remember to also say you love your child, always have and are sad you were estranged, but this is how you feel.

radicalnan Wed 13-Sep-17 09:40:40

I too have an estranged child and have not left her anything but have stated my reason, she chose not to be part of the family and that loss to the rest of us was immense.

We have just had a family situation where children left money, did not want it as they have long term disabiities and feared they would lose them, and oe of them hated his father and refused it anyway.

Every situation is very different.