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Parent Asks If They’d Be Wrong To Completely Exclude Their Estranged Son From Their Will

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For those of us who have had someone walk out of our lives, we know how hard it can be to accept that they’re not coming back.

This can be especially true for family, confided the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor aheartbrokenparent didn’t know where their son was living anymore after he’d moved to Europe and declared he no longer wanted contact with them.

But when they were in the early stages of preparing their will, the Original Poster (OP) felt conflicted about whether or not to include him.

They asked the sub:

“WIBTA (Would I Be the A**hole) if I decide to leave my estate to a charity and not my only child?”

The OP was recently planning out their will with their wife.

“My wife and I are both getting old and we have been having discussions lately about what we will do with our estate.”

“My wife is firmly against leaving anything to our son.”

“I am on the fence. I feel awful about not leaving him anything but at the same time, I don’t feel any connection with him anymore.”

The OP’s son was totally estranged from them.

“A little back story: Our son is in his mid 30’s and lives somewhere else. Where? I have no idea.”

“The last time we heard from him was 3 years ago and he had just moved somewhere in Europe. Again he refused to tell us where.”

“About 2 years before that he had a child whom he has never allowed us to meet.”

“He simply doesn’t want a relationship with me or his mother. It has broken our hearts and is something we still struggle with almost daily.”

“My wife especially wanted a grandchild and it hurts her that my son won’t let her meet him.”

The OP didn’t know how to get back in touch.

“The reason he’s so cold is that back in his early 20s, he got into financial issues and basically bled us dry.”

“We tried hard but we couldn’t financially do it anymore.”

“This upset him and led to him basically telling us to f**k off and to never contact him again. He said he couldn’t wait for us to die so he could sell the house.”

“I’m not sure how he’s doing or if he is even alive. We have 0 contact with him nor does anyone else we know. All we know is he’s married, has at least one kid, and was living in Europe.”

Giving to a charity seemed like the likely option.

“We are planning our will and currently have our estate going to a charity.”

“Does this make me an a**hole or is it justified?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP absolutely wouldn’t be wrong to not include their son. 

“Honestly I’d look into how much taxes would be taken out of any money they leave him and then screw him out of his money that way just to be petty.”

“The son chose to go NC (no-contact). He deserves whatever they leave or don’t leave him.” – amazonrae

“Generally I would say ‘OP has missing reasons about the split’ because of the vagueness of the NC (no-contact), but the son said he couldn’t wait for them to die to get his inheritance, so I’m wagering the son is TA.” – Throwjob42

“My husband and I have just updated our wills and we wanted to make sure that if anything happened to our daughter her ex wouldn’t be able to gain any control over our estate on behalf of our grandchildren. We actually had to name him and state our intentions clearly.”

“NTA OP, sorry to hear your son has been so awful and entitled. You leave it all to your fave charity but make sure it’s done legally.” – KimmyStand

“NTA. He already received his inheritance when you bailed him out.” – Izzy4162305

“The son has chosen to be no contact, for whatever reason. No one is obligated to give an inheritance to someone they are not in contact with. That makes OP NTA, at least in regards to the inheritance. I take no stance on the rest of their history with their son.” – HotDogOfNotreDame

“SOLELY based on the vague side we got, I judge NAH for this specific and tailored situation.”

“It’s okay for the son to set boundaries and disassociate, and okay for the parents to do whatever they want with their inheritance.”

“I suspect there is a lot more to the story that would change the judgment.” – reidmrdotcom

Others wondered about leaving something for the grandchild, though.

“NTA. Your property is yours to do with as you please. You know that he promised to sell your estate, and if you’d rather not take the chances of that happening, then I can see why you would give it to charity.”

“Have you ever thought about leaving the estate to your grandchild? I’m sure there are ways for it to be written into the will without knowing his name.” – KamarasKarma

“It’s justified so NTA.”

“I think I’d personally divide the assets. Leave some to charity and skip the son altogether to leave something for your grandchild.”

“Have a lawyer lock it down tight so he can’t take it from them before they’re old enough to manage themselves.”

“I’m sorry you’ve found yourself in this position. It can’t be easy at all.” – Trouble_in_Mind

“That grandbaby is an innocent party and it could go a long way for them as long as it stays in their hands.” – Esilou

“He doesn’t need nor deserve your money. I wish it was possible for you to leave it to any grandchildren, but I have no idea how you would set that up considering you don’t have a relationship with your son.” – ChakraMama318

“Or make the trust payable starting when the grandchild is 30 years old.”

“That’s what my parents did. Their thoughts were that, by then, if grandkids went to uni/trade school, it would pay off their debt. Or be put onto a home purchase. By 30, they would be old enough to know the value of the money and to better resist anyone pushing them for control or handouts.”

“Nothing is guaranteed, they just tried to ensure the grandkids would have a realistic chance of using the money in a responsible manner.” – androiddays

“NTA but I will strongly suggest that you talk to a therapist and see if there are underlying issues you may not be aware of. Rarely is it as cut-and-dried as you make it sound.”

“Personally, I’d put it in trust for the unknown grandkid to have when they turn 21, and give your son a couple of years past your death to identify the grandkid(s). But it’s your money and you do what you want.”

“If your son ended up in financial trouble that was not a result of something you did but as a result only of very bad luck or very poor decision making on his part? (For example, a friend’s sperm donor made 7+ figures, which meant the friend could not get any financial aid for college… but then refused to provide ANY assistance to help with the cost of going to a state college).”

“Then you pretty much already gave him his inheritance via all the financial help you provided. I’m assuming you didn’t consider this to be helping with a cell phone bill while he was homeless so that he could reach you while you were out on a cruise ship or vacationing in Paris or such, but actual financial help.”

“In that case, either put it aside for the kid if you feel you really want to keep it in the family or help out another family by donating it.”

“NTA either way.” – maroongrad

A few urged the OP to receive local legal advice before completing the will.

“Talk with a lawyer. in some jurisdictions, you have to explicitly say (in your will or trust documents) that you want to exclude your child(ren) from an inheritance; otherwise, they could end up with it after challenging it.”

“Besides that, it sounds like your son was the one who made the decision to go no-contact.”

“(Not sure what kind of thinking is involved when he says he doesn’t want anything to do with you and, in the very next breath, says he expects to benefit from your death, but you didn’t ask about that. suffice to say: if your story is complete and accurate, your son is a spoiled, a**hole brat.)”

“Pick a good charity.”

“NTA in any way.” – cambridge_ax

“It’s actually very common to leave X a single dollar, or the remnants of your trash can, or whatever. The important part is that you acknowledge them in the will in some capacity so that it cannot later be claimed that X was simply forgotten, or wasn’t included because the will hadn’t been updated.” – MrdrOfCrws

“The $1 gift thing depends on the jurisdiction/situation: in some cases, a small gift makes clear that the person wasn’t overlooked by accident; in others, it could make them a beneficiary with standing to apply to set the will aside.”

“Wills, in general, are one of those areas where you’re better off getting proper legal advice rather than trying to wing it.” – snorkellingfish

The subReddit wasn’t totally convinced that they had all of the information they needed to fairly rate the OP’s decision. But if the OP had told the whole truth, they saw no issue with not including someone in their will who was angry they couldn’t use their resources anymore.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.