In our most recent article, we discussed 3 Things to Know About Disinheritance. The primary focus of that piece described a scenario in which parents disinherited one of their children. However, it is completely possible for a child to disinherit their parents. With that in mind, today we'll pick up the conversation we started a few days ago and discuss the legal rights of disinherited children as well as the legal grounds a child might have disinheriting their parents in North Carolina.
Do disinherited children have any legal rights?
As we mentioned in the previous article, "A parent can choose to disinherit any child, beneficiary, or heir for any reason, regardless of whether or not the individual being disinherited agrees with that decision, as long as the person is of sound body and mind."
In the same respect, a disinherited child can contest or dispute that decision. Here's what will happen:
- The disinherited child legally has the right to receive a copy of the document that states they've been disinherited.
- The disinherited child legally has the right to challenge the decision.
- The disinherited child legally has the right to consult a probate litigation attorney or trust litigation attorney early to contest the purported disinheritance. This should be done quickly such that any important deadlines are not missed and so their rights are protected.
In most cases, we find that a child who wants to contest disinheritance decisions will claim that their parent was not in the mental capacity to make that decision or that the parent was a victim of undue influence or duress. Either way, if the child feels as though they should be included in the inheritance, they should seek council as soon as possible.
What are the legal grounds for disinheriting your parents in North Carolina?
Interestingly enough, the most common reasons we see amongst children disinheriting their parents in North Carolina are much the same as the reasons a parent would disinherit their children. These include (but are not limited to):
Lack of Relationship
Just as we saw parents disinheriting their children for a lack of relationship, we also see children disinheriting their parents for the same reason. This most commonly occurs if the parents was abusive or absent during childhood, but it can also occur in situations in which the parent and child simply drifted apart in much the same way that many childhood friends might lose touch. Rather than legally allow this parent to receive an inheritance upon their death, the child disinherits the parent.
Disagreement of Lifestyle Choices
Again, just as we saw parents disinheriting their children because they disagreed on lifestyle choices, we also see many children disinheriting their parents because they feel some sort of conflict of interest, even if they have some sort of relationship with the parent. For example, the parent and child disagree on how the grandchildren are being raised, religion, education, politics or other lifestyle choices. As long as the child is of sound mental capacity, they can disinherit their parents from their will or trust.
Can a parent dispute disinheritance from a child?
Yes. Just as a child can contest a parent's decision to disinherit a child, the parent can also contest a child's decision to disinherit a parent, especially in cases where the child passes away.
Just as we would recommend that you work with an experience estate planning attorney in Raleigh to manage your own estate, we recommend also limiting the risk and likelihood of any future probate litigation you might face should your child ever choose to disinherit you.
When should you hire a probate litigation attorney?
If you’ve recently discovered that you've been disinherited from a will or trust, you should hire a probate litigation attorney quickly to protect your rights. That applies whether you're a child, parent, spouse, or anyone else.
On the other hand, if you are interested in discussing disinheriting a child or spouse, you have several options. You can either hire an estate planning or probate attorney, or a divorce lawyer. Whatever the case, we're happy to discuss your options. Contact our estate lawyer in Raleigh, NC to schedule a consultation.