Should I Cut My Adult Child Out of His Inheritance? Huffington Post

My children have refused to communicate with me for several years and I’m considering cutting them out of my will. Why would I be generous to children who won’t have anything to do with me.

Dear Reader, 

I would certainly sympathize with the impulse to leave them out of your will if they had refused contact for several years. However, if I were going to leave my children with a long-lasting message that would carry on after my death, it would be one of generosity and dedication, despite how unjustly I believed that I was treated by them. Our parents are with us long after they die, and we will be with our children long after we’re gone. Imagine how powerful it would be to give your child his or her inheritance with a letter of love and-without guilt-regret that you couldn’t be closer in your lives together. Also imagine how powerful it would be to acknowledge in your will that he or she must have had his or her reasons to have cut off contact. Now consider the message you send if you leave your child nothing, or only leave the inheritance to the child who remained close to you. There would be damage done to the child left out of the inheritance and there won’t be any satisfaction to you in it. I believe that, as parents, we need to think of how those consequences will play out well after we’re gone. And, it is also possible for children to forgive us after we’re gone for whatever ways that we wronged them, or for whatever ways that they believed that we wronged them. So, I think that leaving your children their inheritance is not only good for them but also for their memory of us.

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  1. w
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    What about the daughter who manipulates you when they need something and then throws you under the bus when they don’t need anything anymore. I know that if she should get the house that I have left a beneficiary will in place for her, that she will just sell the home and spend the money wildly until it is all gone and leave nothing for her own children. Should I change the beneficiary deed to my granddaughter? It is so confusing to a mother to do the right thing when an adult child goes off the deep end.

  2. Victoria Blocker
    Posted May 16, 2014 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    You don’t need to completely cut your children out of your estate. What I’ve done is to leave my estate in a trust. This trust will at my criteria, and their discretion will only give money to my only daughter as she needs it. My daughter had a privileged childhood. She is now marrying for the second time with a man I despise. He is after her for her money. I am financially solvent. And so is her father. My daughter will not inherit my estate outright. She can live in my house (free and cleared) but she cannot own my house, the trust does. She will only get a Life estate of it. Once my daughter dies, the house goes to the trust. If my daughter falls into a hardship, the trust will give her money as she needs it. For her only. If she needs a car, one will be provided for her, not a luxury car, though. This car will be in the trust’s name. So, that my daughter will never be able to sale either my house, nor the car. So , the golddiger husband cannot benefit from it. Also, I have a clause in my trust: if I end up dead, a complete and intense investigation will be conducted with my estate’s money. Nobody will get anything until then, and the investigation is completed. After all of this is finished the reminder of my estate goes to the Humane Society.

  3. TriciaD
    Posted January 3, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I recently cut my parents out of my life after a childhood full of sadistic physical and emotional abuse and neglect. My mom is a pathological liar and “retired” at age 55. She brags to everyone that she was able to retire so young because of how well she saved and scrimped throughout the years. My dad got drunk one night and mouthed off about their financial situation and my mom finally had to admit that she doesn’t have a dime to her name and in fact she has quite a bit of debt.
    My mom had been “hanging” her so called ” money” over my head for years and I bought into it because I was so scared to be left out of the will. I put up with their abuse as a child and lies as an adult and now I’m free as a bird from my evil parents. They can shove their ” money” were the sun don’t shine for all I care. I wouldn’t accept one penny from them!

    • Gracie
      Posted May 11, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink


      You are not alone. It especially sucks when it is Mother’s Day. I’m a mom but my mom, well I tried and tried but recently gave up. All she ever wanted from me is money. My dad left when I was a toddler, remarried and had more kids and made sure to tell me about the vacations he took them on, the clothes he bought them and the college educations he paid for, all while never giving me a dime. Always bragged about how much money they had while never helping at all while I waited table and took night classes.

      All it accomplished in the end is knowing what I will never do to my children. They will have their mom in their life and I will work hard and make sure they have what they need…because I love them.

      My parents never loved me.

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        WOW! I know all too we’ll how you both feel! My parents hung my inheritance over my head for years (read my blog), were abusive and then had the balls to shun me because I stopped it all! Sociopathic people…all about power and control. Either way, the nightmares aren’t as often but I wait every day for them to strike again. These type of parents do not understand what interdependence is..allowing their children to live as adults in the world separate from their parents. Included or not, we do not have to involve them in our lives. My parents never loved me either and I have accepted that. At least I know in my heart that my boys love me and that’s more than I could ever ask for. Take care of your children, yourself and your family. In time the pain becomes easier to accept. I stopped the abuse of my evil parents at 37, I had enough. The only thing I would advise is to break the cycle of abuse with your own family and love your children. Hug them. Raise them to be respectable human beings and treat others with respect. It’s a lifelong battle, but you can be happier without the added drama. Trust me. I feel so much better!

        • Anonymous
          Posted May 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink


  4. Vivian
    Posted January 2, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Coleman’s reply to the question is completely irrelevant and failed to even address the question. The person who asked the question wasn’t looking for Coleman’s personal relationship advice for estranged parents and children — he/she was seeking out legal advice on whether it would be legally possible to exclude her/his children from their will, and to this inquiry Coleman’s reply was unsatisfactory. Honestly, if Coleman cannot address these sorts of legal questions properly, he should not take them on in the first place. I’m not surprised, however, as psychologists are rarely fit to address legal matters.

    • Whystler
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      The fact of the matter is they asked Coleman, not a lawyer. So they must have been looking for advice on a moral issue rather than a legal one.

  5. Posted December 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    So…what if your parents have done nothing but caused you grief your entire life and made your life miserable, beat you as a child and talks about you in public as if you are pond scum? What if your parents are high status people, with lots of money and wishes to take you to court to get your children just to piss you off? What if your parents have NEVER loaned you money, you own your own home and have NEVER asked for financial support? What if your parents hold your inheritance over your head for their gratification? What if you stand up to them and their CONTROLLING behavior only to be stabbed in the back for no reason at all? What if you have kids that are afraid of your parents, plus they allow them to drink alcohol (all under 10) and your parents believe it’s their right to give it to them, not matter what you say? What if you refuse communication to your parents because they are bad influence on your (their grandchildren) but in their eyes its YOUR FAULT? What about that? Do you still qualify for any inheritance? What about your (their grandchildren) children? Do they get their share? I am not out to get money…I just feel that all the hell they put me and my children through for no reason at all (yes, I have a college degree and I am employed full time) only for their selfish ass ways, I deserve a little something. I don’t owe them nothing! I think they owe me! So…for whatever reasons, I am sure your children are not communicating for some reason. There is always a reason for a behavior and it’s not ‘they just won’t’. Think about it. So, either let them have what they deserve or donate it to the orphans or the homeless, but give your children something. They are already dealing with the pain of not having a healthy relationship with their parent and that in itself is a daily emotional trainwreck.

  6. dee
    Posted October 14, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I visited this site because I really wasn’t sure what was correct, after reading others opinions I have to say that I am leaning on the side of not giving or at least not giving as generously in death as we always have in life. I see that most everyone commenting here is or has probably been hurt deeply at some time by the actions of others. I as well am also dealing with emotions of anger and quilt and sadness because my son is very much a selfish and immature adult who I raised and I feel terrible that he has turned out this way. I am especially upset with him right now and not a good time to make a big decision, I think anyone who does have to choose what to do in this situation should do it out of love for yourself as well as your child or children and not act to hastily or purely out of anger and pain. I think I will be trying to make the decision as rationally as I am able and when I am not mad and have a clear head. I think I am going to try to talk to our son one more time even if it is only to let him know that we love him greatly but that does not mean we enjoy or will always tolerate his bad treatment or disrespect towards us. Maybe he will get the picture and if not I am pretty sure that the bulk of my money will be going to the people that I know loved me on my time on earth.

  7. Derdra
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    my younger daughter wont have anything to do with me even after nearly 4yrs of trying on my part and every time ive being rejected so im leaving her to it theres only so much rejection one can take…even my older daughter treats me like dirt on her shoes …ive just changed my will and ive left them nothing!! No i feel no guilt likewise they wouldnt feel any different toward my memory…me ill be dead so it wont matter….

  8. Alex
    Posted May 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    If your adult children refuse to communicate with you, you should cut them out of your will.

    There is no legal obligation to support an adult child.

    I don’t know the reasons that your children won’t communicate with you, but this is your money and you should do with it as you see fit. If your children aren’t interested you, they shouldn’t be interested in your money.

    I hope you ignore the touch-feely BS from other posters. I hope you spend every penny on yourself and enjoy it.

    • Derdra
      Posted August 29, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      In full agreement with you alex …by leaving them something your basically saying ‘ its ok the way youve treated me’

    • Vivian
      Posted January 2, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Your assets are your own, and you have no legal obligation to designate your children (of any age) to an inheritance.

  9. ForgivenessHeals
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    “Nope” is an answer to the question of “Should I cut my adult child out of his [or her] inheritance?” Why? Reread Dr Joshua Coleman’s explaination again & clearly comprehend this to understand the better decision to make.

  10. Posted November 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    This is a terrible, troubling issue. My ex had BPD. I strongly suspect my daughter does too… but she’s distanced herself from me for 10 years. NO communications! Leaving her $$ from my family (and me) somehow seems wrong.

    From her behavior/attitude towards me, it’s hard to determine if she has compassion, empathy, a sense of fair play, the ability to compromise or forgive. I know I don’t want to show I’ve endorsed her values. And with BPD, my “forgiving her” and showing unconditional love would seem laughable… I’m quite sure she feels she’s done no wrong. And I would be the fool.

    I wish you were available to talk about this.

    • eddieblue
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Totally agree with you.
      Won’t leave our “bad” child the same amount we will leave our other child.
      I wouldn’t leave the sociopathic child anything but my spouse wants to leave something.
      Think it will be 20%, the rest will go to other child and grandchildren.

      I don’t turn the other cheek after years olf nothing but trouble, lies, deceit, theft, etc.

  11. Sha
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    just got home from my son’s wedding in California. I raised him as a single mother after his dad died, when he was only 10 years old. The day before the wedding, he told me that I was the best mother in the world – maybe because I had just deposited $10,000.00 in his bank account (per his request), and ran around doing errands all day, as he asked. The next day, at the very traditional wedding, I was excluded from the official wedding photos. I was told the mother of the groom was not on the schedule, my son confirmed this when I asked him. At the wedding reception, I was seated in the last row, by the kitchen. My son wouldn’t dance with me, and didn’t thank me in his speech, he ignored me. Some members of my family and friends were crying they were so upset – no one could believe it because they know how close I was to my son. What happened? Well Bridezilla didn’t help. A month before the wedding, she sent me the dress she wanted me to wear to the wedding. It looked like something a nun would wear in the 1940’s. Is she controlling? Oh yeah. And my son is not himself anymore. But that is now his problem. I am definitely changing my will because she has control of everything and my son is acting like a wimp, sorry but its true. He will not be executor or have power of attorney anymore because there’s no way she’s going to have the power to pull the plug on me. And I will leave most of my estate to my other son. I think children should be held accountable for their deplorable behavior – even Jesus threw people out of the temple, for heavens sake. I sacrificed everything for my children, never expecting anything in return, but he couldn’t even pull off a front row seat at his wedding? Or one picture with his Mom…give me a break – So he’s out of the will, and I am no longer his bank. I will not fund him anymore – dead or alive. Frankly, I spoiled him rotten and this is the outcome. Hopefully, fending for himself, will make him a nicer person, which will help him much more after I’m gone than money ever could..

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I can not believe that ,but with what is going on with my own son I can .i feel so sorry for you

    • Anne Bennett
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Good for you! Admire your resolve!

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:06 am | Permalink

      You Yanks are the biggest scum on the Planet.
      Why can’t you be like us Brits?
      Decent, civilized human beings!

      • Serenitynot
        Posted September 30, 2014 at 4:49 am | Permalink

        anonymous, biggest scum? really? that doesn’t sound too savvy, especially with a British accent.
        you sound like an ass…I agree with the Yanks..and Im a Canuck

      • Sina
        Posted September 30, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

        WOW anonymous, maybe you’re the Taliban? Americans are among the KINDEST people on the planet….Brits..ahh not so much, based on you!

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 25, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink


  12. Anonymous
    Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    What if my son has made it very clear to me he wants nothing from me – no communication – no gifts – no monetary help of any kind – nothing? I am honoring his wishes now – why wouldn’t I do that in my death?

  13. Mary Ann
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I feel as you do that it’s best not to carry this hurt to the grave but I also think:
    What will they do with your personal things if THEY (EC) are still hating you (guilty or not) at the time of your death? Will they sell them, when you might have given those things to a person who really cared for you?

    Would the money better benefit a charity (you could give the donation in their name)?

    I’m thinking that these EC probably want no reminder of you and that bad behavior should not be rewarded. There are consequences to all actions!

    • Sha
      Posted September 30, 2014 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      Ann Marie, I agree with you. I had quite a significant career with awards, etc, there is no question that my rotten DIL would throw everything out. I disagree with Dr. Coleman. I know a lawyer who handles lots of estranged children cases, he told a lady I know, whose son has refused to speak to her for 6 years (he too is married to a nut), to definitely cut him out of her will. The reason? The lawyer said when a parent dies, ALWAYS the first person to come looking for the will and the cash grab, is the estranged kid! Even though some of them haven’t spoken to their parents in years! Besides, the other children left behind are often thrown out of their siblings lives, just like the parents, and I think they deserve the extra help. Let these estranged kids learn that ‘actions have consequences’. I treated my son like a king, and spend a fortune on a big education and everything else for him..wheres the respect? Yes, I disagree with Dr. Coleman here..I dare I?

  14. Alison
    Posted April 28, 2010 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Interesting perspective. And one that I hadn’t considered. Makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

    • Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Your website has to be the eelctrnioc Swiss army knife for this topic.


    Tuesday Sept 8th @ 5:30 PDT/8:30 EST