Sound Legal Advice From Our Family To Yours

Do estranged children have a right to an inheritance?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Estate Planning |

For many, estate planning is the ability to leave beloved children, a spouse or family members priceless family memories or financial stability after your passing. It also lets you choose where you want your money or property.

Dying without a will in California leaves your estate subject to distribution by state law. These laws include provisions for all children, even if you and the child had an estranged relationship.

Inclusion of inheritance for an estranged child

There is no law that obligates you to designate an estranged child as a beneficiary of your property. However, it is a decision that weighs heavily on the hearts of parents who still want restoration. Estrangement happens for many reasons. Perhaps the child struggles with addictions or has a history of poor choices. When a child refuses to allow his or her parents to get involved in their life, it makes estate planning more complex.

Inheritance distribution to an estranged child

Without a will in place, state law will give your children a portion of your estate. This takes place regardless of the relationship you had while still alive. If you do not want to leave anything to an estranged child, you must have a valid will in place at the time of your death.  You must also use clear language that states the disinheritance of the child. If you are looking for a way to leave something behind, you can leave a gift or set up a testamentary trust.

When dealing with an estranged child, it is a good idea to leave a letter regarding your intentions addressed to the child. This can help explain whether you choose to leave an inheritance or not.