Do you have an
estranged child?

Around a quarter of the clients for whom we prepare Wills are estranged from one or more of their children. What are the reasons behind estrangements, and how does it impact estate planning and Wills where future beneficiaries, perhaps other children, are involved?

What causes estrangements?

The reasons may be many and of a historical nature, but in our experience, it’s more a question of ‘who’ has caused, or at least exacerbated, the breakdown in contact.

For example, a strong-willed daughter-in-law or son-in-law can sometimes cause a wedge between the spouse and their parents, a case of “choose them or me”. Perhaps unfairly assuming that the spouse can or will be influenced by parents who may share different values and views on parenting, lifestyle, budgeting etc.

Generally, it’s when our clients are in a second or third marriage. Children may find themselves torn between divorcing parents and may stop contact with one of their parents, thinking that their loyalties should remain with the other, often the mother.

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The collateral damage is that the grandchildren can be caught in the crossfire. Grandchildren from the estranged child lose contact with their grandparents and wider family. Estrangements can come out of the blue and last for months, years or even decades.

Our aim at April King is to structure our clients’ Wills to leave a positive legacy. We call this “harmony over discord”. Our friendly team of lawyers are all trained to carefully and sympathetically handle what can be challenging and upsetting family dynamics. The dominant emotion is often one of frustration. Our clients have worked hard all of their lives to provide for their family only to be denied the care, love and support from the estranged child and are quite often unsure of the real cause.

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bloodline
Safeguarding the family bloodline

How do we deal
with estrangement?

Careful planning is needed to ensure that the included children are not left with a potentially drawn-out and stressful court case.

Over the past 30 years, April King Legal has specialised in Wills and Trusts for parents and grandparents where contact has been lost with children and/or grandchildren for a variety of reasons.

This can be quite upsetting for our clients suffering from these issues, but over time we have come to understand not just the emotional impact of estrangement but the legal and practical steps needed to be taken to protect the other children or beneficiaries.

The first thing we often hear is, “we don’t want a son/daughter to receive anything; we want to leave everything to our other children”. Whilst this is perfectly understandable, it’s at this point that great care needs to be taken.

Our goal is to protect the inheritance of the non-estranged children - our clients don’t want to leave problems to the children they are close to. We have developed a range of legal strategies to reduce the chances of a successful claim being made.

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A carefully structured Will should also allow for future reconciliations. A reconciliation often starts with a simple text or message request for a chat over coffee or perhaps ignited by a family event or gathering. Births, deaths and marriages seem to provide fertile ground for people to take the first tentative steps to work together on the relationship. How devastating would it be to all if, following a reconciliation, the Will is not updated to include them either through simply forgetting to do so or a loss of mental capacity removing the option to update the Will?

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At April King, our lawyers will look at your individual family circumstances and explain which options would be most suitable for you.

 

April King Legal offers:

A free information pack about Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Smart ways to pass what you’ve worked so hard for down your bloodline.

A free one-hour appointment to discuss your Will, without obligation.

Fixed competitive fees, what we quote are the fees you pay.

Individual bespoke advice based on your personal circumstances and goals.

Firm run by a STEP-qualified lawyer and regulated lawyer-managed process.

Your free, no-obligation information pack explains:

tick If you have an estranged child and want to safeguard your other children’s inheritance from a legal challenge.
tick How April Wills® can ensure your estate is inherited by family, not ex-partners or predatory third parties.
tick Avoiding care home fees: How to legally ensure nearly all of your hard-earned assets are not used for care fees.
tick How to nominate in advance someone you trust to manage your affairs if you become unable to do so.

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