When you are planning your estate in Pennsylvania, you may have children or heirs that you do not want to inherit your assets. As you age, it is important that you adjust your estate plan regularly because life changes all the time. Although it can be painful, some parents wonder if it is okay to disinherit a child.

First, it is not possible to disinherit a spouse, unless the spouse signed a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. You can disinherit children, but The Balance encourages you to think it through seriously before you do it. This should be a financial decision rather than an emotional one. Many parents are tempted to use an inheritance to control a child’s behavior. Not only is it emotionally damaging, but the child may go right back to the behavior once they have their inheritance.

Rather than disinheriting, you may want to consider a living trust. A trust places your estate in the control of an executor and your child must meet the conditions set before they receive their inheritance. This is also a good idea when you have minor children or children who do not make the best decisions with money. Rather than receiving a giant sum when you die, they will receive distributions at certain ages or when they hit milestones you set.

If you do determine to disinherit your child in your will, you must clearly state that in your estate plan. It is not enough to just leave the name out of the will. A family member may legally contest a will that leaves them out unless it is spelled out and clear that you did not intend for them to obtain any of your assets.

This information is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.