What will happen if I disinherit a child?

John Lennon’s Story

When former Beatle John Lennon was murdered in 1980, he left an estate reported to be worth over $276 million. He also left a clear, detailed will, naming his widow, Yoko Ono, and his accountant as his executors. The main beneficiaries were Yoko Ono and their son Sean.

But John had another son, Julian, from his first marriage, and John made no provision in his Will for Julian. Julian believed that Yoko Ono had improperly influenced his father and started a will challenge that lasted for 16 years. Eventually Julian settled out of court with Yoko for what was reported to be $27 million.

Lawyer’s comment: If you disinherit a child, your estate could be in for a long and expensive fight. In Ontario, parents are generally not required to leave anything to a financially independent adult child. However, where a child inherits nothing, that child could decide to challenge the will. This is becoming more common. A will challenge can be stressful, time consuming and expensive, even if it is not ultimately successful. If you are thinking about disinheriting a child, discuss the possible alternatives with your lawyer.

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