Trusted Southern Ohio Attorneys

Can I leave one of my kids out of an Ohio estate plan?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Estate Planning

When dealing with a strained relationship with a child, the thought of excluding them from your estate plan may cross your mind. The good news is that it is legally possible to disinherit a child in Ohio. However, this process requires careful consideration to avoid unintended consequences or potential legal challenges.

Disinheriting a child with specificity

In Ohio, the legal right to disinherit a child exists, provided they are not a minor (under 18 years old). Mere omission from your will or trust is insufficient. Instead, your estate plan must contain explicit statements. Clearly state your decision to disinherit, accompanied by the reasons for the disinheritance. This prevents any argument about accidental exclusion or claims of fraud, undue influence or lack of capacity.

Disinheriting a child with intentionality

One effective method is leaving a minimal, specific bequest in your will, like a dollar. This gesture signifies intentionality, dispelling any notion of forgetfulness. Alternatively, include a clause in your estate planning documents stating that you have adequately provided for all intended inheritors, emphasizing that any omissions are deliberate.

Do not use beneficiaries as witnesses

Crucially, avoid designating a beneficiary as a witness to your estate planning documents. This could jeopardize their bequests and lead to estate distribution following intestacy rules, potentially including the disinherited child.

Reconsidering disinheritance

Before deciding to disinherit a child, it is important to consider the reasons and potential outcomes. Disinheritance can lead to emotional distress, resentment and family conflicts. This can, and does, result in legal disputes affecting your estate.

Remember, estate planning is not just about legalities. It involves managing sensitive family dynamics. Balancing your wishes with their potential impact on relationships is crucial for a comprehensive approach to preserving your legacy.