estate planning and
probate law, I’ve seen firsthand that families can be complicated. Occasionally
I am asked if a parent can disinherit their child under Tennessee law,
and the answer is yes, a parent can disinherit their son or daughter.
While Hollywood has managed to glamorize disinheritance often by showing
a wealthy mother or father threatening to cut their child out of the will
if they don’t do something, in reality, disinheritance is often
tied to divorce.
I have worked with clients who wanted to disinherit one or more of their children.
In many of these cases I’ve noticed a common thread. Usually, the
parent who wishes to disinherit the child has remarried.
The parent who is disappointed with their child isn’t so much concerned
about drug or alcohol abuse or the child becoming lazy, but it’s
about the child “favoring” the other parent.
When I reflect on clients who have disinherited a child, or on a sibling
who was disinherited, there is a pattern. In a significant percentage
of these types of cases, the child’s natural parents divorced and
the relationship between my client and their adult son or daughter soured.
With roughly 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce, most people
will attest that divorce is not only hard on the parents, but it is difficult
on the kids.
Some people use their children as pawns to cause emotional turmoil upon
their estranged spouses. This is often referred to as
“parental alienation” syndrome, and it can be quite effective indeed,
but in all the wrong ways unfortunately.
Understandably, a child caught in the middle of a painful divorce may experience
emotional problems and bitterness towards one or both parents. When one
of their parents falls in love and remarries, sometimes the child grows
closer to the parent who remains single.
If you went through a bad divorce and are now considering disinheriting
one or more of your children from a previous marriage, please be aware
that your divorce may have created emotional turmoil for your children.
If your parents had a painful divorce, my advice to you is to continue
honoring and loving both of your parents and do your best to avoid taking
sides. Your parent will notice if you are teaming up against him or her.
Speak to a Nashville Estate Planning & Probate Attorney
If you need further information about disinheriting a child or contesting
a will, don’t hesitate to
contact me, David Whittaker, Attorney at Law. Regardless of what you are going through,
I would be glad to guide you every step of the way.