3 ways to handle estranged children in South Carolina
All families experience some level of conflict at times, but in some cases, the strain can be so severe that it leads to a breakdown in communication and estrangement. This is a difficult situation for all involved, and when estate planning becomes part of the equation, things can become even more complicated. In South Carolina, there are certain steps you can take to help prevent or minimize issues around estate planning and estranged children.
Communicate your wishes
It’s common for an estranged child to return after their parent has passed away to claim some part of the estate. They might even sue to contest a will or other estate planning documents. To prevent this from occurring and ensure everyone respects your wishes, you’ll need to communicate with them openly. This includes both close family members and extended relatives.
Disinheritance or smaller inheritance
There are extreme cases where you can decide to outright disinherit your estranged child. If you are considering doing this, you should mention in your will that you are not leaving anything to this child and have your estate lawyer explain the reasons in detail.
If you don’t want to completely disinherit them, another option is to provide a smaller inheritance than other family members. But you may have to include an “in terrorem clause” in your will, which states that any child who contests the will not receive anything.
Consider trusts and beneficiary designation
If you are not sure about how your estranged child may handle their inheritance after you pass, you can create a testamentary trust with instructions on how to handle the funds. You may also want to look into beneficiary designations for accounts like 401(k)’s and life insurance policies. These typically bypass any will and go directly to the designated beneficiaries, which is a perfect way to avoid the potential for litigation in the future.
Estate planning amid family estrangement is a delicate balance between protecting your estate and acknowledging the nuances of familial bonds. While it may be challenging, it’s essential to remember that with time, patience, and a clear focus, it is possible to navigate this emotional landscape and create a plan that best serves your needs and those of your family.