Take These Six Steps When Administering an Estate Where Children Were Left Out

As you administer the estate of your loved one, potential issues are everywhere. One area that can give rise to potential disputes and hassles involves children of the decedent who were left out of the will or trust. These children are referred to as either “omitted” or “pretermitted.” Depending on their classification, they may be entitled to certain rights. As the personal representative or trustee, it is your job to address these issues properly.

Six Steps to Take for Dealing With Omitted and Pretermitted Children

If you are dealing with an estate that left out one or more children, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Carefully review the terms of both the will and the trust. Does the will or trust reference disinheritance? Does the will or trust address children who may be born or adopted after the date the documents were signed?
  2. Create a timeline that documents when the estate plan was created and when each child was born.
  3. Determine whether the child was specifically omitted from the trust intentionally. This is known as an omitted child.
  4. In some cases, the child may not have been specifically omitted. Instead, the child may have been born after the will or trust was drafted, and the document may have failed to provide for later-born children. This is known as a pretermitted child.
  5. If the child was pretermitted, determine whether he or she is entitled to a portion of the decedent’s estate even though provisions were not made for that child under the will or trust.
  6. Determine whether any pretermitted child who is entitled to a share of the estate is going to disclaim their interest.

Dealing with omitted or pretermitted children properly can go a long way towards preventing disputes down the road. We hope that you found these suggested steps helpful. If so, we encourage you to share it with your friends and family on Facebook!

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm
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