How to cut estranged child from will

Can Angie block an estranged daughter from her will without consigning her other children to a drawn-out challenge after her death? Estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich has the answer.

Q. Angie
Is it possible to cut an estranged offspring from her parents’ wills? We have five children, including her. We would like to do this, or to at least not leave her much, as she will just squander it so that she feels important!

A. Rod
You can leave your daughter out of your will – it’s purely your choice who you leave your wealth to. If you do leave her out, you should consider preparing a formal statement setting out all relevant facts (in your own words) so they are available to any court that is asked to investigate the issues.

The legislation in each state makes specific provision for such a statement and expert legal advice is required to prepare such a statement appropriately.

That said, there is nothing you can do to prevent your daughter challenging your will if you leave her out or leave her only a small gift. All children have a statutory right to challenge a parent’s will. She has no right, however, to a particular share of your estate. Even though she has a right to challenge your will, she would need to satisfy a court that she is entitled to a share when all the competing interests are considered.

Your daughter’s chances of success depend on a court considering more than 20 issues when determining whether you should have made provision for her and, if so, how much.

A long estrangement with a daughter is an important factor a court will take into consideration, but it is not decisive.

I recommend that you seek the advice of a specialist estate planning lawyer to assist (you can find accredited specialists c/- your state law society or law institute). For example (this is not an exhaustive list and may not be possible in your circumstances), you may be able to be financially assisted.

Rod Cunich is a lawyer and author with more than 30 years’ experience who specialises in estate planning. If you have a question for Rod, simply email it to [email protected]. His book, Understanding Wills and Estate Planning, has recently been updated and is available from all good bookshops.

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

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