Every now and then, an aging parent has an heir that they want to cut out of their will. This is known as disinheriting that person. In short, it is someone who would otherwise assume they'd get an inheritance, but they will get nothing.
For instance, perhaps you have four children. You have about $900,000 in assets to divide between the four of them. However, you do not want the youngest to get anything, so you simply leave $300,000 to the older three and nothing to the last child.
While it sounds simple enough -- that example may be simple, but it can get very complicated with real estate, life insurance policies, investments and other complex assets -- the real question you may ask yourself is why someone would want to do this. Why cut out one child? Below are a few potential reasons:
1. Financial needs
You may simply consider the children's financial needs and leave the money to those who need it the most. This doesn't mean you hold any ill will toward the person getting disinherited. You just know they don't need money.
For instance, maybe your youngest is the most successful of the four. He or she makes every month what they make in a year. You're not punishing them for their success, but you know they have no financial needs, while the others struggle to pay the rent and keep food on the table. They will benefit from that money and the youngest will never miss it.
2. Problem children
Of course, you may also consider one of your children to be a "problem child," and you don't want them to get your money because you know how they'll use it.
Maybe your youngest isn't financially successful and has gotten arrested repeatedly on drug charges. You feel like they'll just use the money to fuel their drug habit and wind up back in jail. You cut them out both to protect them and to make sure your money goes to people who will use it well.
Finally, perhaps you and the youngest just had a disagreement in the past about their lifestyle choices or other such issues. As a result, you no longer speak to one another. It's a fractured relationship and you know that nothing is going to fix it before you pass away. You don't want to leave money to someone you have not seen in years or even decades, even if they're related to you.
These are just three reasons why you may cut someone out, but they help to show you why it's important to know exactly what legal options you have during this process.