New York law allows you to divide your assets in any manner you’d like upon your death. Therefore, you could give your youngest child your entire estate while giving nothing to your oldest child. Although that may seem harsh, there are a number of scenarios in which leaving unequal inheritances may make sense.
You’re estranged from a child
It isn’t uncommon for an adult child to cut off contact with a parent or to have a minimal presence in a parent’s life. If your child has decided to cut you out of his or her life, you may be justified in disinheriting that child in favor of another sibling. You also have the option of giving that son or daughter’s inheritance to a local or national charity. It may be easier to disinherit a child by putting assets into a trust as it may be harder to challenge than a will.
One child has substance abuse issues
There are a couple of estate planning strategies that you can use to provide for a child who has a substance abuse issue. First, you can put that child’s inheritance in a trust to be overseen by someone else. This ensures that your son or daughter is cared for without being able to squander what is passed down. Alternatively, you could make distributions contingent upon attending rehab or taking other steps to get clean. If those steps aren’t taken, assets are passed on to other people or organizations.
You alone are the one who decides how your estate plan is constructed. However, it may be worthwhile to have conversations with your family to help them get used to the idea that they may receive nothing from your estate and to process any negative feelings that may cause.