Q: I am a divorced, single woman, and, I have one living daughter who is 31-years old. My ex-husband died of cancer a few years ago after we were divorced, and my daughter inherited his entire estate, which was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars when she was only in her mid-20s. Having money now at such a young age has made her cocky and arrogant and she treats people badly, including me. I do not like the person she has become. I am financially stable, 61 years old, own my own home, have pension income and other income at present. However, I wish to disinherit her from my estate. Can I leave my entire estate to others without worrying that she will challenge it?
A: Dear Dianne, I have struggled with your question about disinheriting your daughter. Your divorced husband left his estate to your daughter. I don’t know if this changed your relationship with your daughter. Parent-child bonds are strong. You did not mention any grandchildren.
Your daughter is an adult and financially independent. She, therefore, cannot claim to be dependent or require support from your estate. There may be other factors to consider. These must include local disinheritance laws where you reside.
Testamentary freedom allows you to leave your estate as you see fit. This is subject to you first satisfying all your legal obligations. You have obligations towards your creditors and family that have legal rights. You cannot ignore those who have legal rights to your estate. Courts also can in some jurisdictions override or vary will provisions to satisfy your obligations. They can enforce moral obligations and some broken promises.
Your daughter may not contest your will if you disinherit her. But what about the permanent emotional pain your actions may cause? Indirectly your decision may affect others in ways that you did not anticipate.
I suggest speaking with an estate lawyer to get a second opinion. Do this before you commit to paper. Otherwise, you may regret your decision. Sadly, you may not have a chance or be able to change your will. That could be tragic if your relationship improves.
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