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Navigating Estate Planning: Should You Include Your Estranged Child in Your Will in Georgia?

Posted by Joel Beck | Jun 07, 2023 | 0 Comments

Estate planning presents various unique challenges, especially when it comes to the complexities of familial relationships. One particularly poignant question that many of our clients raise is whether or not to include gifts of money or other assets to an estranged child in their will. As attorneys at Peach State Wills & Trusts in Georgia, we're here to provide advice to help you navigate this emotionally charged issue.

Understanding the Implications

 Leaving an inheritance, no matter how large or small, to an estranged child can have far-reaching implications. It isn't just about the monetary value involved, but also the emotional repercussions for both parties. To some, including an estranged child in a will can represent an olive branch, or perhaps a way to express regret or forgiveness. For others, it's more about avoiding potential legal complications after they pass away.

Should You Include or Exclude an Estranged Child 

Deciding whether to include an estranged child in your will often revolves around whether to leave them a small amount of money or property. This approach is often chosen as an attempt to prevent the child, or anyone else, from contesting the will under the claim that the child was mistakenly overlooked or wrongfully excluded.

Understanding 'No Contest' Clauses 

In many estate plans, 'no contest' clauses, otherwise known as 'interrorem' clauses, are used. These clauses stipulate that if anyone unsuccessfully contests your will, they forfeit what they would have received under the plan, effectively being treated as if they predeceased you.

While these clauses can minimize challenges to your will, they only serve as an effective deterrent if the challenger stands to lose a substantial gift. For example, if you plan to leave your estranged child a small token amount, they might still choose to contest your will, given that the potential gain could outweigh the financial and emotional costs of a legal dispute.

Strategies to Discourage Contesting Your Will 

In Georgia, one method to discourage an estranged child from contesting your will is to either leave them a substantial gift or identify them in your will and specifically state your intention to disinherit them. You must note though, that while it's legal to disinherit an adult child, a minor child is still entitled to a year's support from your estate, which could invalidate your disinheritance language if the support exceeds the gift you've designated.

Estate planning involves a complex interplay of emotions, family dynamics, and legal statutes. The decision to include or exclude an estranged child from your will isn't one to be taken lightly. Knowledgeable guidance is critical in navigating this complex terrain to ensure your final wishes are honored and potential family disputes are minimized.

Ensuring Your Estate Plan Reflects Your Wishes: The Peach State Wills & Trusts Team is Ready to Help

 At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we understand the sensitivity of these matters and offer  guidance to help you navigate the intricacies of estate planning. If you need assistance with estate planning in Georgia contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at (678)-344-5342. Our commitment is to provide clarity and peace of mind for your future.

If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached.

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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At Peach State Wills and Trusts, a division of The Beck Law Firm, LLC, we're committed to answering your questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, uncontested probate, and business planning issues in Georgia.

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