One important part of the estate planning process in California is determining what you leave to your children. Because an estate plan is hopefully created long before you die, situations may change with your beneficiaries and you may need to update your will. For example, if you have a child that you want to disinherit, this is a big step and one you should consider carefully, but it can be done if you determine that is the best thing to do.
If your child's behavior is frustrating you, you do not want to use the inheritance to change the behavior. For example, some parents do not want to leave large amounts of money to kids who have substance abuse problems or who spend irresponsibly. Threatening to withhold their inheritance is an almost guaranteed way to create friction and tension in your family, and not a great way to change the child's behavior.
At the same time, you have genuine concerns about what your child will do with a large sum of money if you die suddenly. Forbes Magazine suggests that one way to handle this problem is to place the inheritance in a living trust. This way, the child must meet certain requirements before they are given the money.
This is good in situations where young children are involved or adults whose decisions you question. You do not want a seven-year-old to have access to their entire inheritance when you die, but you do want them to have it when the timing is right. Someone is put in charge of delivering the inheritance when it is appropriate and when the child has met requirements. A living trust can simply be thought of as an inheritance with strings.
This information is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.